Thorax 64:815-821 doi:10.1136/thx.2009.115931
  • Epidemiology

Maternal fat consumption during pregnancy and risk of wheeze and eczema in Japanese infants aged 16–24 months: the Osaka Maternal and Child Health Study

  1. Y Miyake1,
  2. S Sasaki2,
  3. K Tanaka1,
  4. S Ohfuji3,
  5. Y Hirota3
  1. 1
    Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan
  2. 2
    Department of Social and Preventive Epidemiology, School of Public Health, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  3. 3
    Department of Public Health, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Y Miyake, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka 814-0180, Japan; miyake-y{at}
  • Received 1 March 2009
  • Accepted 25 May 2009
  • Published Online First 3 June 2009


Background: One factor capable of modulating antenatal immune responses is diet. This prospective study examined the association between maternal intake of specific types of fatty acids, cholesterol, fish and meat during pregnancy and the risk of wheeze and eczema in the offspring.

Methods: Subjects were 763 mother-child pairs. Data on maternal intake during pregnancy were assessed with a diet history questionnaire. Data on wheeze and eczema based on criteria of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood were obtained from a questionnaire completed by mothers 16–24 months postpartum.

Results: Higher maternal intake of α-linolenic acid and docosahexaenoic acid during pregnancy was independently associated with a reduced risk of wheeze, but not eczema, in the offspring (adjusted odds ratios (ORs) between extreme quartiles 0.52 (95% CI 0.28 to 0.97) and 0.37 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.91), respectively). Higher maternal intake of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and linoleic acid during pregnancy was independently related to an increased risk of infantile eczema but not wheeze (adjusted ORs 2.25 (95% CI 1.13 to 4.54) and 2.11 (95% CI 1.06 to 4.26), respectively). No significant exposure-response relationships were observed between maternal consumption of total fat, saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid, arachidonic acid, cholesterol, meat and fish and the ratio of n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption during pregnancy and infantile wheeze or eczema.

Conclusions: Maternal intake of α-linolenic acid and docosahexaenoic acid during pregnancy may be preventive against infantile wheeze. Maternal intake of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic acid, during pregnancy may increase the risk of childhood eczema.


  • Funding Supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology and Health and Labour Sciences Research Grants, Research on Allergic Disease and Immunology from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, Japan.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The ethics committee of the Osaka City University School of Medicine approved the OMCHS.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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