According to a new study, using fish oil and vitamin D supplements during pregnancy reduces the incidence of croup in newborns and young children.
The findings will be presented at the International Congress of the European Respiratory Society in Barcelona, Spain. Croup is a viral chest illness that primarily affects children under the age of five. It generates a distinctive ‘barking’ cough, hoarseness, and trouble breathing. Croup is frequent and typically moderate, but some children will require hospitalisation and breathing assistance.
From 2010 to 2013, 736 pregnant women were cared for by COPSAC.
The women were split into four groups. The first group received a high-dose vitamin D supplement (2800 international units per day) and fish oil containing long-chain n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (2.4 grammes), the second group received a high-dose vitamin D supplement and olive oil, the third group received a standard-dose vitamin D (400 international units per day) and fish oil, and the final group received a standard-dose vitamin D and olive oil. From the 24th week of pregnancy until one week after their kids were delivered, all of the mothers took the supplements on a regular basis. Until the end of the trial, neither the ladies nor the researchers knew which supplements they were taking.
The children were tracked by the researchers until they were three years old, and those who were suspected of having croup were diagnosed by a clinician or through their medical records. There were a total of 97 croup cases among the youngsters.
Overall, children whose mothers used fish oil had an 11% incidence of croup, compared to 17% in infants whose mothers used olive oil (a 38 per cent decrease). Children whose mothers took high-dose vitamin D had an 11% chance of getting croup, compared to an 18% chance for those whose mothers took standard-dose vitamin D. (a 40 per cent decrease).
“Our findings show that vitamin D and fish oil might be useful against childhood croup in sufficiently large concentrations,” Dr Brustad stated. Because they are very inexpensive supplements, this might be a very cost-effective strategy to enhancing the health of young children.
“We don’t know the specific processes underlying vitamin D and fish oil’s therapeutic benefits, but it’s possible that they might activate the immune system, allowing newborns and young children to eliminate illnesses more successfully.”
The COPSAC study team has already looked at other possible advantages of vitamin D and fish oil during pregnancy, such as the impact on bone growth, the central nervous system, body composition, and asthma.
They want to continue following the children in the research and look into why certain children are more susceptible to illnesses in childhood than others.
Professor Rory Morty of the University of Heidelberg is the chair of the European Respiratory Society’s lung and airway developmental biology group, although he was not engaged in the study. He stated: “We know that pregnancy can have an impact on the lung health of newborns and young children. Babies whose moms smoke, for example, have worse lung health. We’re learning more and more that a mother’s diet might influence a baby’s lung development.
“According to this study, taking vitamin D and fish oil supplements during pregnancy may help newborns and young children. We would like to see further study in this area to back up these findings, since this might lead to new recommendations for prenatal supplements. Before using supplements, pregnant women should always consult with their doctor.”