• asthma;
  • eczema;
  • fish;
  • n-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acid;
  • seafood


Background:  The effects of fish consumption and n-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels on atopic disorders are inconsistent in previous reports, but few studies have investigated the effects of both fish and n-3 PUFA. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether erythrocyte fatty acids and the consumption of fish are associated with atopic diseases in pre- and early adolescents.

Methods:  A total of 135 students with eczema, 136 students with asthma, and 137 healthy control students were selected from fifth and eighth grades in Shunan, Japan. Atopic disorders and dietary intake were evaluated with questionnaires, and total serum IgE was measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In addition, erythrocyte membrane levels of PUFA were assessed via gas chromatography.

Results:  Total IgE was significantly elevated in the atopic subjects (P < 0.001). The intake of fatty and dried fish or seafood was significantly associated with eczema (odds ratios of the highest quartiles: 0.46, 95% confidence interval (95%CI): 0.22–0.94; 0.34, 95%CI: 0.16–0.71, respectively). Additionally, only erythrocyte eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) level had a negative association with eczema (P= 0.048). For asthma, the effect of fish consumption was not significant.

Conclusions:  Fish consumption was related to a low prevalence of eczema, but not asthma in Japanese pre- and early adolescents. EPA may be involved in this mechanism.