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Mediterranean Diet in pregnancy protective for wheeze and atopy in childhood


Chatzi L, Torrent M, Romieu I, Garcia-Esteban R, Ferrer C, Vioque J, Kogevinas M, Sunyer J. Mediterranean Diet in pregnancy protective for wheeze and atopy in childhood. Thorax. (15 Jan 2008)
Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Greece.


INTRODUCTION: Dietary intake of specific nutrients or food groups during pregnancy could play a role in the risk of asthma and atopy in offspring, but specific dietary patterns have not been implicated. We evaluated the impact of maternal (during pregnancy) and child adherence to the Mediterranean Diet on asthma and atopy in childhood.

METHODS: Women presenting for antenatal care at all general practices in Menorca, a Mediterranean island in Spain, over a 12-month period starting in mid-1997 were recruited. Four hundred and sixty children were included in the analysis after 6.5 years of follow-up. Maternal dietary intake during pregnancy and children’s dietary intake at age of 6.5 years were assessed by food frequency questionnaires and adherence to a Mediterranean Diet was evaluated through a priori defined scores. During follow-up, parents completed questionnaires on the child’s respiratory and allergic symptoms. Children underwent skin prick tests with 6 common aeroallergens.

RESULTS: The prevalence of persistent wheeze, atopic wheeze, and atopy at age 6.5 years were 13.2%, 5.8%, and 17.0% respectively. One third (36.1%) of the mothers had low quality of Mediterranean Diet during pregnancy according to the Mediterranean Diet Score, while the rest had a high score. A high Mediterranean Diet Score during pregnancy (in two levels, using “low” score as reference) was found to be protective for persistent wheeze (OR, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.08-0.58), atopic wheeze (OR, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.10-0.90), and atopy (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.31-0.97) at age 6.5 years after adjusting for potential confounders. Childhood adherence to the Mediterranean Diet was negatively associated with persistent wheeze and atopy though the associations did not reach statistical significance.

CONCLUSION: Our results support a protective effect of a high level of adherence to the Mediterranean Diet during pregnancy against asthma-like symptoms and atopy in childhood.