OMEGA-3 fatty acids and Childhood Asthma

28 Feb OMEGA-3 fatty acids and Childhood Asthma

Childhood asthma has become in the most common respiratory disorder around the world. It can interfere with daily activities and in some cases it may lead to a life-threatening attack.

Researchers have investigated the relationship between Omega‐3 fatty acids and the anti‐inflammatory and immunomodulating properties in asthma. Some finding suggest the inflammation of the airways associated with asthma may be reduced by eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

A group of researchers conducted a study aimed at examining the efficacy of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with a high omega‐3 ‘fatty’ fish intake in Greek asthmatic children. This was published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

The researchers performed a small randomised control trial for 6 months comparing the consumption of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with two meals of 150 g of cooked fatty fish weekly (intervention) with the usual diet (control) with respect to pulmonary function in children (aged 5–12 years) with mild asthma. Pulmonary function was assessed using spirometry and bronchial inflammation by fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) analysis.

The study found no statistically significant differences between the Mediterranean and control groups in regards to lung function (observed in spirometry), asthma control and quality of life scores. The high-fish diet did, however, appear to have an effect on children’s lung function as measured by fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) analysis. This well-known and widely used test is used to diagnose and monitor eosinophilic asthma. The bronchioles of eosinophilic asthmatic patients release more nitric oxide (NO) gas than those without the disease, and that the level of exhaled NO corresponds directly to inflammation severity. The Mediterranean group’s average FeNO decreased by 18.6 percent, a change that the authors say corresponds to a reduction of 14.15 parts per billion (ppb) from baseline levels after adjusting for age, sex, BMI, and regular physical activity.

Conversely, children in the control group showed an average 78.2 percent increase in FeNO after six months. According to guidelines from the American Thoracic Society, a reduction in FeNO by at least 10 units (for a final value lower than 50 ppb) is considered an indicator of a potent response to anti-inflammatory therapy.

They concluded that “A Mediterranean diet supplemented with two fatty fish meals per week might be a potential strategy for reducing airway inflammation in childhood asthma. Future robust clinical trials are warranted to replicate and corroborate these findings”.


  1. M. Papamichael, Ch. Katsardis, K. Lambert, D. Tsoukalas, M. Koutsilieris, B. Erbas, C. Itsiopoulos. Efficacy of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with fatty fish in ameliorating inflammation in paediatric asthma: a randomised controlled trialJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/jhn.12609
  2. La Trobe University. “Trial finds diet rich in fish helps fight asthma.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2018. <>.
  3. Kovner Aliyah, Regularly Eating Fatty Fish Could Ease Childhood Asthma.