Supplementation With Fish Oil in Pregnancy Reduces Gastroenteritis in Early Childhood

David Horner, Mathis Hjort Hjelmso, Jonathan Thorsen, Morten Rasmussen, Anders Eliasen, Rebecca Kofod Vinding, Ann-Marie Malby Schoos, Nicklas Brustad, Rikke Bjersand Sunde, Klaus Bonnelykke, Bo L. Chawes, Jakob Stokholm, Hans Bisgaard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background. We hypothesized that insufficient intake of fish oil-derived omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFAs) during pregnancy is a contributing factor to gastroenteritis in early childhood. We examined the effect of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation on gastroenteritis symptoms in the offspring's first 3 years of life.
Methods. This was a double-blinded, randomized controlled trial whereby 736 mothers were administered n-3 LCPUFA or control from pregnancy week 24 until 1 week after birth. We measured the number of days with gastroenteritis, number of episodes with gastroenteritis, and the risk of having a gastroenteritis episode in the first 3 years of life.
Results. A median reduction of 2.5 days with gastroenteritis (P = .018) was shown, corresponding to a 14% reduction in the n-3 LCPUFA group compared with controls in the first 3 years of life (P = .037). A reduction in the number of gastroenteritis episodes (P = .027) and a reduced risk of having an episode (hazard ratio, 0.80 [95% confidence interval, .66-.97]; P = .023) were also shown.
Conclusions. Fish oil supplementation from the 24th week of pregnancy led to a reduction in the number of days and episodes with gastroenteritis symptoms in the first 3 years of life. The findings suggest n-3 LCPUFA supplementation as a preventive measure against gastrointestinal infections in early childhood.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)448–456
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Fish oil
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Pediatrics
  • Pregnancy supplementation


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