Fish Allergy

Reporter: Andrea Burns

Professor Susan Prescott says "as many as 40% of Australian children will have some kind of allergy" Is a dose of this a day, from birth, enough to stop allergy from taking hold? That's what WA researchers are hoping to prove. Professor Susan Prescott says fish oil ticks both boxes.

A good source of Omega Three - a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in oily fish, tuna and leafy vegetables, it has been shown to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic benefits to the immune system. But increasingly, Omega-3 is lacking in Western diets. And so, perhaps, it's no co-incidence that increasingly our kids are falling victim to allergies. "The main focus of our study is really to try to reverse the allergy epidemic by preventing disease very early in life, before it begins"

Mum, Emma Gerovich has had two children involved in a fish oil study being conducted by the Telethon Institute of Child Health and UWA. "I really thought if there was anything we could do to help other children not suffer like she did, that it was worth it"

Four year old Thomas gets hives from tomato based foods and contact with grass. Four month old Matthew has been given the contents of a fish oil capsule every day since birth - as was his two year old sister Sarah for her first six months of life. Neither Sarah nor Matthew shows signs of allergy. Mum Anne Marie Nixon also had one year old Jessica on fish oil from birth. So far, she's pretty clear, unlike Anne Marie's older daughter who has severe reactions to some foods.

Already Professor Prescott's team has found newborns who go on to develop allergies have lower levels of a protective marker. What they're trying to confirm now is whether giving babies fish oil prevents allergies developing later. Allergy sufferer Suzanne Martin had toddler Genevieve on the study. Her new child will also participate - when he or she arrives." I don't want them to go through some of the challenges that I went through and if the research can help find answers then that'll help them for the future"

But researchers need more pregnant women to participate in the study. Mums will be allergy tested before birth, the children tested at one and two and a half to see whether allergies have developed. The fish oil is supplied free. Pets, dust, grass foods - the triggers for allergy are ordinary, and the reactions range from a nuisance, to life threatening. These parents say a cure would be life changing.

Researchers are looking for 120 pregnant women to participate in the study. If you're interested, phone 9340 8834