Eating salmon during pregnancy may reduce the chance of a child being diagnosed with asthma, compared to children whose mothers did not eat the oily fish, according to recent research. Lead researcher Prof. Philip Calder of the University of Southampton in England recently presented the findings at the Experimental Biology Congress in San Diego, after being named the 10th recipient of the Danone International Prize for Nutrition.
Results from the randomized Salmon in Pregnancy Study showed that children of mothers who ate salmon twice a week from half-way through their pregnancy until birth were less likely to have asthma by the time they turned 3.
All children of mothers taking part in the study were examined with allergy tests at six months, and then at 2 to 3 years of age. Results were compared to a control group whose mothers did not eat salmon during pregnancy.
According to Calder, early results from the study, which have not yet been published, demonstrated that at six months there was no difference in the allergy rate between the two cohorts of children. However, at age two and half years, the results showed that children whose mothers ate salmon twice a week during pregnancy were less likely to develop asthma.
The study’s results were able to connect the relationship between nutrition and immune-related conditions from before birth to early childhood. Calder’s work is important because it can be translated into nutritional science, and can have an impact in the development of guidelines and innovative treatments, which the Danone International Prize for Nutrition has recognized.
Calder’s research has demonstrated over the years that particular fatty acids – or a lack of them – play a role in diseases such as allergies, atherosclerosis, as well as inflammatory diseases, including Crohn’s disease. His work has contributed to the knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the relationship between nutrition and immunity.
“It is in honor of his pioneering work over the last 25 years, his groundbreaking results and their far-reaching clinical applicability that Professor Calder has been awarded, on the Jury’s unanimous decision, the 10th Danone International Prize for Nutrition 2016,” said Prof. Olivier Goulet, president of the Danone Institute International, in a news release.
Calder, also of the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, said as he received the award: “It is a great honor to receive the Danone International Prize for Nutrition. To me, it represents recognition by the nutrition community of 25 years of research in nutrition, immunology, and omega-3 fatty acid functionality. It is also an encouragement to keep going further along this path. Our new findings from the Salmon in Pregnancy Study indicate that early nutrition interventions, even during pregnancy, can have long lasting effects on health.”
The Danone International Prize for Nutrition recognizes a researcher leading a major advancement in nutrition science, including new concepts and research fields with potential application for human diet and health. The innovative research within the scope of the award includes mechanisms, disease prevention and management, behavior, economics, public health, or the expansion of the frontiers of food science and nutrition.
The prize award is 120,000 Euro, and is equally shared between the recipient and his or her not-for-profit primary research institution. The prize funds provided to the institution must be used to support nutrition research. This was not the first time that a Southampton researcher has been awarded with the prize; in 2005, the award went to Prof. David Barker, for the Barker Early Origins Hypothesis, also named the thrifty phenotype hypothesis, that states that reduced fetal growth is strongly associated with a number of chronic conditions later in life.
“Through multifaceted support to research and educational programs, the Danone Institutes and their projects actively and independently contribute to Danone’s commitments to nutrition and health. With increasing obesity rates, an aging population, and severe malnutrition issues, maintaining a healthy population is a huge task,” said Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber.