Babies and young children are less likely to develop croup if their mothers took fish oil and vitamin D supplements during pregnancy, research suggests.
Croup is a viral chest infection that affects young children, with symptoms including a ‘barking’ cough, a hoarse voice and difficulty breathing.
While the illness is common and usually mild, some infected children require hospital treatment and breathing support.
Researchers enlisted 736 pregnant women for a randomised controlled trial and divided them into four groups.
They took different doses – high or standard – of vitamin D supplements, and either fish or olive oil daily from their 24th week of pregnancy until one week after they gave birth.
Researchers found that children are less likely to develop the viral chest infection croup if their mothers took fish oil and vitamin D supplements during pregnancy (stock image of fish oil capsules)
The team from Copenhagen University hospital monitored the children until they were three years old and any who were suspected of having croup were diagnosed by a doctor (Pictured: a research lab at Copenhagen University)
There were 97 cases of croup among the children in total.
Overall, children whose mothers took the fish oil had an 11 per cent risk of croup, compared with 17 per cent in the children whose mothers took olive oil.
Children whose mothers took high-dose vitamin D had an 11 per cent risk of croup, compared with an 18 per cent risk in those whose mothers took the standard-dose vitamin D.
The findings were presented by Dr Nicklas Brustad at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Barcelona. He said: ‘There is currently no vaccine against the pathogen that causes this disease. Our findings suggest vitamin D and fish oil could be beneficial against childhood croup in sufficiently high doses.
'These are relatively cheap supplements meaning that this could be very cost-effective.’