Source: Am J Respir Crit Care Med, Sep 1, 2006;174(5):499-507.
In the past, researchers have made an association between reduced maternal vitamin E intake during pregnancy and wheezing in two-year-old children. As such, they set out to assess whether maternal nutrient intake during pregnancy is associated with asthma-related outcomes in five-year-old children by conducting a longitudinal cohort study of 1861 children born to women recruited during pregnancy and followed up at five years. Researchers assessed maternal nutrient status through a food frequency questionnaire and by examining plasma levels. Respiratory and food frequency questionnaires were completed at five years and children were invited for measurement of spirometry and skin-prick testing.
Symptom and food frequency questionnaire data were available for 1253 and 1120 children, respectively; 700 children were skin prick tested, and FEV(1) was measured in 478 and exhaled nitric oxide in 167 children. In five-year-old children, maternal vitamin E intake during pregnancy was negatively associated with wheeze in previous year, asthma ever, asthma and wheeze in previous year and persistent wheezing. Maternal plasma alpha-tocopherol during pregnancy was positively associated with post-bronchodilator FEV(1) at five years, with a 7-ml increase in FEV(1) per mug/ml alpha-tocopherol. Maternal zinc intake during pregnancy was negatively associated with asthma ever and active asthma. There were no associations between children’s nutrient intake and respiratory outcomes. Researchers concluded that maternal intake of foods containing vitamin E and zinc during pregnancy is associated with differences in the risks of developing childhood wheeze and asthma.