Background and aims Fetal exposure to polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) might influence the risk of childhood asthma. Epidemiologic studies suggest decreased risks of asthma after high intake of omega-3 and many women take omega-3 supplements during pregnancy. Few studies have maternal PUFA blood levels.
We examined the relationship between maternal PUFA blood levels during early pregnancy and asthma in the offspring at age 7 years in a population based prospective cohort.
Methods In 2,105 women, we determined maternal PUFA levels in plasma phospholipids drawn at about week 13 of pregnancy. Child asthma at age 7 (n = 154 cases) was based on parental report of physician diagnosis. We categorised PUFA levels and omega-3 to omega-6 ratios in quartiles with the lowest quartile as the reference category in multivariate logistic regression. Risk ratios were adjusted for: gestational age at blood draw; maternal education; western ethnicity; maternal age; parental asthma; and prepregnancy body mass index.
Results Higher omega-3 levels were related to lower asthma risk with a trend across the quartiles (risk ratio for the top quartile = 0.73, 95% CI (0.45–1.17, P trend across quartiles = 0.04) and higher omega-6 levels showed opposite associations but also not statistically significant and with no significant trend. Higher ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 were associated with slightly lower risks of asthma with a trend across quartiles (risk ratio for top quartile = 0.80, 95% CI 0.50–1.27, P trend across quartiles = 0.04).
Conclusions We found some suggestion of a reduced risk of childhood asthma at age 7 with higher maternal plasma levels of omega-3 and a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 PUFAs.
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