|Abstract: ||The prevalence of asthma, atopic eczema and IgE-mediated allergies has significantly increased in recent years, along with a general decrease of fish consumption. Findings from previous studies point to a connection between lower levels of dietary intake of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) and allergy development.
This study analyzed 694 samples of erythrocyte fractions from mothers and children in the Nutritional Impact on Immunological maturation in Childhood in relation to the Environment (NICE) cohort, with the aim to investigate the relationship between fatty acid proportions in mothers and children, diet, and allergy development.
Children diagnosed with allergy (n=27) primarily had lower proportions of α-linolenic acid (ALA) compared to non-allergic children (n=120) at 4 months after birth, while mothers to children diagnosed with allergy had a lower total n-3 LCPUFA proportion and lower proportion of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Blood proportions of dairy biomarkers C15:0 and C17:0 were found to be lower for allergic children than non-allergic at 4 months post-partum, and C17:0 lower for allergic children (n=39) also at 12 months post-partum when compared to non-allergic children (n=203) at 12 months post-partum.
This study also found several connections between the mothers’ diet, red blood cell fatty acid levels among both mothers and their children, and the prevalence of hypersensitivity conditions among the children. Higher maternal intake of fish and seafood as well as n-3 LCPUFAs was positively correlated to higher n-3 proportions in red blood cells primarily among the mothers at 4 months, but seemed to also positively influence n-3 to n-6 ratio among the children at 4 months.
When comparing the diets of mothers to 4-month-old children without allergies (n=241) to those with children with diagnosed allergies (n=60) the total daily intake of saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as daily intakes of individual fatty acids C4:0-C10:0, C12:0, C14:0, C16:0, C18:0, C20:0, C16:1, C18:1, C18:2 (LA) and C18:3 (ALA) were significantly higher among mothers to non-allergic children.
For 4-month-old children with asthma (n=5) and without asthma (n=123), the diet of mothers with asthmatic children was found to include significantly lower (p<0.05) amounts of C16:0, AA, EPA, DPA and DHA.
The results from this thesis generally agree with current research, indicating a negative correlation of fish consumption and subsequent increased n-3 LCPUFA proportions and development of allergy and asthma. Intake of fish and n-3 LCPUFAs was shown to correlate with erythrocyte proportions both for mothers and their children, and erythrocyte fatty acid proportions generally reflected dietary intake of the corresponding fatty acids. A general conclusion of this thesis is that maternal fish consumption during pregnancy and breast-feeding may prevent or reduce the prevalence of allergy and other hypersensitivity conditions in infants through increased n-3 fatty acid levels in mothers and children, although the underlying mechanisms and/or the genetic interplay are not fully understood. Proposed areas of future research would include the correlation between altered fatty acid metabolism and allergy development, and further investigation of other factors affecting allergy development.|