Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Intake and Islet Autoimmunity in Children at Increased Risk for Type 1 Diabetes

JAMA. 2007 Sep 26;298(12):1420-8. doi: 10.1001/jama.298.12.1420.

Abstract

Context: Cod liver oil supplements in infancy have been associated with a decreased risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus in a retrospective study.

Objective: To examine whether intakes of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are associated with the development of islet autoimmunity (IA) in children.

Design, setting, and participants: A longitudinal, observational study, the Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY), conducted in Denver, Colorado, between January 1994 and November 2006, of 1770 children at increased risk for type 1 diabetes, defined as either possession of a high diabetes risk HLA genotype or having a sibling or parent with type 1 diabetes. The mean age at follow-up was 6.2 years. Islet autoimmunity was assessed in association with reported dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids starting at age 1 year. A case-cohort study (N = 244) was also conducted in which risk of IA by polyunsaturated fatty acid content of erythrocyte membranes (as a percentage of total lipids) was examined.

Main outcome measure: Risk of IA, defined as being positive for insulin, glutamic acid decarboxylase, or insulinoma-associated antigen-2 autoantibodies on 2 consecutive visits and still autoantibody positive or having diabetes at last follow-up visit.

Results: Fifty-eight children developed IA. Adjusting for HLA genotype, family history of type 1 diabetes, caloric intake, and omega-6 fatty acid intake, omega-3 fatty acid intake was inversely associated with risk of IA (hazard ratio [HR], 0.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.21-0.96; P = .04). The association was strengthened when the definition of the outcome was limited to those positive for 2 or more autoantibodies (HR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.09-0.58; P = .002). In the case-cohort study, omega-3 fatty acid content of erythrocyte membranes was also inversely associated with IA risk (HR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.41-0.96; P = .03).

Conclusion: Dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with reduced risk of IA in children at increased genetic risk for type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics
  • Diet
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Islets of Langerhans / immunology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk Factors

Substances

  • Autoantibodies
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6