Women who consumed higher levels of EPA (eicosapentenoic acid) and EPA plus DHA (docosahexenoic acid) during pregnancy were less likely to have babies who suffered from infantile wheeze at age 23 to 29 months, according to new research out of Japan.

The team reviewed data on 1,354 Japanese mother-child pairs. They analyzed information on the mother’s diet during pregnancy and records of wheeze and eczema, based on criteria of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. 

Investigators found only 77 cases of wheeze in the highest quartile of EPA plus DHA intake, compared with 100 cases in the lowest quartile. There were also 78 wheeze cases in the highest quartile for EPA intake, compared to 100 in the lowest quartile.

Research did not find any connection between DHA intake alone and risk for wheeze or infant wheeze and maternal intake of other fatty acids, cholesterol, or the ratio of n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption, nor with maternal intake of meat and fish.

The team also failed to find any association between fatty acid intake and eczema. They believe this could indicate that the apparent preventive role of EPA and EPA plus DHA intake in infantile wheeze may be related to the prevention of respiratory infections, rather than atopy itself.