Mothers-to-be Need Vitamin E
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A child's risk of developing asthma may be established long before he ever takes his first breath.
According to a new study out of the Scotland, kids born to mothers who consumed the lowest levels of vitamin E while pregnant were over five times as likely to contract persistent asthma by age 5 as those born to mothers who consumed the most vitamin E.
Vitamin E intake by the children after birth didn't appear to affect the findings one way or the other.
The study builds on previous research conducted among the same group of mothers and children. In that study, 2-year-olds whose mothers took in low amounts of vitamin E during their pregnancies were more likely to wheeze even when they didn't have a cold.
The researchers believe vitamin E has an effect on lung function and airway inflammation, a hallmark of asthma. Since the lungs are fully developed 16 weeks after the baby is conceived, they suggest vitamin E must have most of its effects early on in a pregnancy.
Foods rich in vitamin E include vegetable oils, margarine, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and nuts. The authors recommend pregnant women either modify their diets to include more of these foods or take vitamin E supplements.
Will maternal diet during pregnancy continue to affect lung function in these kids as they get older? The investigators aren't sure, but hope to find out. "Further follow-up of this cohort is required to determine whether associations with maternal diet persist into later childhood," they write.
SOURCE: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2006;174:499-507
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