Fish oil and vitamin D during pregnancy reduce the risk of diphtheria in infants and young children

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New results from a clinical trial show that infants and children under the age of three are less likely to develop diphtheria if their mothers take fish oil and vitamin D supplements during pregnancy. The results are from a randomized controlled trial – the ‘gold standard’ for medical research – which will be presented at the International Conference of the European Respiratory Society in Barcelona, ​​Spain. It is the first large study of its kind to investigate the effects of vitamin D and fish oil on diphtheria.

Croup is a viral infection of the chest young children. It causes a characteristic “barking” cough, a hoarse voice, and difficulty breathing. Croup is common and usually mild, but some children will need hospital treatment and breathing support.

The study was presented by Dr. Niklas Brostad, a clinician and postdoctoral researcher working on the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) at Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.

He told Congress, “There is currently no vaccine against the pathogen that causes this disease. Therefore, other preventive strategies are needed, and measures taken during pregnancy may be important because diphtheria occurs in infants and young children. For this purpose, evidence is needed that both vitamin (d) And fish oil can have an effect on the immune system.”

The study included 736 pregnant women It is sponsored by COPSAC from 2010. The women are divided into four groups. The first group was given a high dose of vitamin D (2800 IU per day) and fish oil containing long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (2.4 grams), the second group was given a high dose of vitamin D and olive oil, and the third group was given a dose of A standard dose of vitamin D (400 IU per day) and fish oil, and the last group was given a standard dose of vitamin D and olive oil. All women took the supplement daily from the 24th week of pregnancy until a week after their babies were born. Neither the women nor the researchers knew what supplements they were taking at the end of the study.

Researchers monitored children up to the age of three, and anyone suspected of having diphtheria was diagnosed by a doctor or by Medical records. There were a total of 97 cases of diphtheria among children.

Overall, children whose mothers took fish oil had an 11% risk of developing croup, compared with 17% for children whose mothers took them. olive oil (38% decrease). Babies whose mothers took a high dose of vitamin D had an 11% risk of developing croup, compared with 18% for those whose mothers took the standard dose of vitamin D (a 40% decrease).

Dr. Brostad said: “Our findings suggest that vitamin D and fish oil can be beneficial against childhood diphtheria in sufficiently high doses. These are relatively inexpensive supplements which means this could be a very cost-effective approach to improving the health of young children.

“We are not sure of the exact mechanisms behind the beneficial effects of vitamin D and fish oil, but they can stimulate immune system To help infants and young children clear the infection more effectively.”

The research team working at COPSAC has already investigated other potential benefits of vitamin D and fish oil during pregnancy, including its effects on bone growth, the central nervous system, body composition and asthma. They will continue to follow the children in the study and plan to investigate why some children are more susceptible to childhood infections than others.

Professor Rory Morty of the University of Heidelberg is chair of the Lung and Airway Developmental Biology Group of the European Respiratory Society and was not involved in the research. He said, “We know that the lung health of infants and young children can be affected during pregnancy. For example, children whose mothers smoke tend to have worse lung health. We are increasingly seeing that elements of a mother’s diet can help or also hinder the development of Child’s lung.

“This research indicates that taking vitamin D and fish oil Supplements during pregnancy can have benefits for infants and young children. We would like to see more research in this area to support these findings as this may lead to new recommendations for supplementation during pregnancy. Pregnant women should always speak to a doctor before taking supplements.”


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more information:
Summary No.: OA2189 “Fish oil and vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy protect against childhood diphtheria,” by Nicklas Brustad et al; Presented at Pediatric Chronic and Acute Lung Infections at 09:4511:11 CEST on Monday 5 September 2022. [k4.ersnet.org/prod/v2/Front/Pr … ?e=377&session=14751]

Introduction of
European Lung Foundation


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