Skip to main content

31-03-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Olive oil in pregnancy may reduce wheezing risk in infants


Free abstract

MedWire News: Maternal consumption of olive oil during pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk for wheezing among infants in their first year of life, study results suggest.

Jose Castro-Rodriguez (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile) and team explain that previous studies have indicated that children who eat a Mediterranean-style diet, which is low in saturated fatty acids, and rich in carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants, monounsaturated fatty acids, and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which are mainly derived from olive oil, are less likely to develop wheezing/asthma than those with less healthy diets.

To investigate whether eating a Mediterranean diet and using olive oil for cooking or dressing salads during pregnancy reduces the risk for wheezing in infants, the researchers studied 1409 children, aged a mean of 16.6 months, who were attending healthy infant clinics in Spain.

All mothers were asked to complete questionnaires detailing their diet during pregnancy and the occurrence of wheezing episodes in their children during early life.

Overall, 42.2% of children were reported to have suffered from at least one episode of wheezing in their first year of life.

Univariate analysis indicated that both consumption of a Mediterranean diet and using olive oil for cooking/dressing salads during pregnancy was protective against early infant wheezing.

However, after accounting for factors such as parental smoking, number of siblings, day care attendance, the presence of household pets, exposure to the common cold, and proximity of the home to busy roads, the team found that only the use of olive oil during pregnancy was associated with a reduced risk for wheezing in the first year of life, at an odds ratio (OR) of 0.57.

Multivariate analysis also showed that male gender (OR=1.8), day care attendance (OR=2.15), maternal asthma (OR=2.16), maternal smoking during pregnancy (OR=1.83), the presence of infant eczema (OR=1.95), and mould stains on the household walls (OR=1.72) were all significantly associated with an increased risk for infant wheeze.

Castro-Rodriguez and team conclude: “Our results suggest a potential protective effect (primary prevention) of olive oil for cooking or dressing salads during pregnancy on wheezing during the first year of the offspring’s life.”

They add: “Future prospective studies on olive oil consumption during pregnancy need to be carried out to confirm this finding.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

Related topics