[Narrator] You probably know somebody who has asthma. You may even have it yourself. It can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, wheezing, and coughing. In western countries, one in five kids is now diagnosed with asthma before their fifth birthday. That's more than double the number it used to be. But, what if a simple supplement could prevent asthma in the first place? Researchers at COPSAC and the University of Waterloo had a hunch that the rising rates of childhood asthma might be linked to our decreasing intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. This specific type of omega-3 is found in cold-water fish, and is a key to regulating our immune responses.
To test their hypothesis, the researchers recruited 736 expectant mothers and divided the group in two. For the third trimester of their pregnancy, half the women were given 2.4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily. The other half were given placebo pills. The researchers monitored changes to the level of omega-3 in the women's blood until just after the babies were born. Now let's fast-forward to when those kids are five years old.
The children whose mothers took the supplements had a 31% reduced risk of developing asthma. More surprising, the kids whose moms had the lowest levels of omega-3 in their blood at the beginning of the study had their risk for asthma cut by 54%. That's right. By more than 1/2.
While the causes of asthma can be complicated, these new findings will equip parents with a frontline defense to help prevent it, moving us one step closer to making asthma a thing of the past.
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