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09-10-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Maternal fatty acid intake linked to infant wheeze


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medwireNews: Japanese researchers have found that high intake of certain fatty acids by pregnant women is associated with a lower risk for wheeze during infancy in their offspring.

The study of 1354 women and their children found that maternal intake of eicosapentenoic acid (EPA) and summed intake of EPA plus docosahexenoic acid (DHA) had a significant inverse exposure–response relationship with infantile wheeze at age 23 to 29 months.

For example, there were 77 cases of wheeze in the highest quartile of EPA plus DHA intake (median, 0.73 g/d) compared with 100 cases in the lowest quartile (0.22 g/d). Similarly, there were 78 wheeze cases in the highest quartile for EPA intake (0.28 g/d) and 100 in the lowest quartile (0.07 g/d). However, in multivariate analysis, the differences in odds for wheeze between these extreme quartiles were not significant. Additionally, there was no significant relationship between DHA intake alone and risk for wheeze.

And, the team found no association between infant wheeze and maternal intake of other fatty acids, cholesterol, or the ratio of n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption, nor with maternal intake of meat and fish – something that has been linked to atopic conditions in some previous studies.

The data came from a prospective cohort study (the Kyushu Okinawa Maternal and Child Health Study) involving women from two regions of Japan who completed the comprehensive diet history questionnaire shortly after giving birth, and questions about wheeze and eczema when their child was around 24 months old.

Writing in the Annals of Epidemiology, the team, led by Yoshihiro Miyake (Fukuoka University), says that as they did not find any association between fatty acid intake and eczema, it could indicate that the apparent preventive role of EPA and EPA plus DHA intake in infantile wheeze may be related to the prevention of respiratory infections rather than atopy itself.

“Further prospective studies and trials are required to draw conclusions as to the question of whether maternal fatty acid intake during pregnancy is related to the risk of childhood allergic disorders,” they conclude.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter

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