Low maternal vitamin E intake during pregnancy is associated with asthma in 5-year-old children

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2006 Sep 1;174(5):499-507. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200512-1946OC. Epub 2006 Jun 8.


Rationale: We have previously reported an association between reduced maternal vitamin E intake during pregnancy and wheezing in 2-yr-old children.

Objectives: To assess whether maternal nutrient intake during pregnancy is associated with asthma-related outcomes in children aged 5 yr.

Methods: A longitudinal cohort study of 1,861 children born to women recruited during pregnancy and followed up at 5 yr.

Measurements: Maternal nutrient status was assessed by a food frequency questionnaire and plasma levels. Respiratory and food frequency questionnaires were completed at 5 yr and children were invited for measurement of spirometry and skin-prick testing.

Main results: Symptom and food frequency questionnaire data were available for 1,253 and 1,120 children, respectively; 700 children were skin prick tested, and FEV(1) was measured in 478 and exhaled nitric oxide in 167 children. In 5-yr-old children, maternal vitamin E intake during pregnancy was negatively associated with wheeze in previous year (odds ratio per intake quintile, 0.82; 95% confidence interval, 0.71-0.95), asthma ever (0.84, 0.72-0.98), asthma and wheeze in previous year (0.79, 0.65-0.95), and persistent wheezing (0.77, 0.63-0.93). Maternal plasma alpha-tocopherol during pregnancy was positively associated with post-bronchodilator FEV(1) at 5 yr, with a 7-ml (95% confidence interval, 0-14; p = 0.04) increase in FEV(1) per microg/ml alpha-tocopherol. Maternal zinc intake during pregnancy was negatively associated with asthma ever (0.83, 0.71-0.78) and active asthma (0.72, 0.59-0.89). There were no associations between children's nutrient intake and respiratory outcomes.

Conclusion: Maternal intake of foods containing vitamin E and zinc during pregnancy is associated with differences in the risks of developing childhood wheeze and asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Asthma / blood
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology
  • Trace Elements / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin E / blood
  • Zinc / administration & dosage


  • Antioxidants
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc