Use of cod liver oil during the first year of life is associated with lower risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes: a large, population-based, case-control study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec;78(6):1128-34. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/78.6.1128.


Background: In Norway, cod liver oil is an important source of dietary vitamin D and the long-chain n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, all of which have biological properties of potential relevance for the prevention of type 1 diabetes.

Objective: The main objective was to investigate whether the use of dietary cod liver oil or other vitamin D supplements, either by the mother during pregnancy or by the child during the first year of life, is associated with a lower risk of type 1 diabetes among children.

Design: We designed a nationwide case-control study in Norway with 545 cases of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes and 1668 population control subjects. Families were contacted by mail, and they completed a questionnaire on the frequency of use of cod liver oil and other vitamin D supplements and other relevant factors.

Results: Use of cod liver oil in the first year of life was associated with a significantly lower risk of type 1 diabetes (adjusted odds ratio: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.56, 0.99). Use of other vitamin D supplements during the first year of life and maternal use of cod liver oil or other vitamin D supplements during pregnancy were not associated with type 1 diabetes.

Conclusion: Cod liver oil may reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes, perhaps through the antiinflammatory effects of long-chain n-3 fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cod Liver Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Cod Liver Oil / chemistry
  • Cod Liver Oil / therapeutic use
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Vitamin D
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid