Dietary intake of two fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, may have opposite effects on the severity of asthma in children and may also play opposite roles in modifying their response to indoor air pollution, according to new research published online in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Children with higher levels of omega-3 in their diets had less severe asthma and fewer symptoms in response to higher levels of indoor particulate air pollution. Conversely, children with higher levels of omega-6 in their diets had more severe asthma and more symptoms in response to higher levels of indoor particulate matter pollution.
The study included 135 children, ages 5-12 (average age: 9.5), with asthma. Ninety-six percent of the children were African American, and 47 percent were girls. Roughly a third of the children had mild asthma, a third moderate and a third severe asthma. Their diet, daily asthma symptoms and asthma medication use were assessed for one week at enrollment and again for one week at three and six months.