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Diabetes Risk Linked to Omega-3 Intake in Childhood

Diets with more omega-3s associated with lower risk of developing the disease

TUESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with reduced risk of type 1 diabetes in children, according to a two-part study reported in the Sept. 26 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jill M. Norris, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado at Denver, and colleagues assessed the diets of 1,770 children, aged 1 year and older, who were at risk for diabetes (mean follow-up age, 6.2 years). The subjects, participants in the Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY), were regularly tested for antibodies to pancreatic islet antigens. In a second study, the same team took blood samples from a 244-child DAISY subset to compare the risk of islet autoimmunity with the polyunsaturated fatty acid content of red blood cells.

In the first study, total omega-3 fatty acid intake was inversely associated with having at least one autoantibody and with the risk of developing multiple antibodies or type 1 diabetes (hazard ratios of 0.45 and 0.23, respectively). In the second study, increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the erythrocyte membranes was associated with decreased risk of islet autoimmunity (hazard ratio 0.63).

"We suggest that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids will lead to increased membrane concentration of these fatty acids," the authors write, "resulting in increased levels of anti-inflammatory resolvins and protectins, to bring chronic inflammation to a homeostatic end point."

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