Background: Diet during pregnancy and childhood has been suggested to play an important role in children's asthma risk. We assessed whether the adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern, for children in the last 12 months and their mothers during pregnancy, was associated with both childhood asthma and allergic rhinitis.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2004 using a random sample of 1476 children (6- to 7-year old) from the Mexicali region, Mexico. Dietary data of children's intake in the last 12 months and their mothers' intake during pregnancy was collected, through a parental food frequency questionnaire. A Mediterranean diet score was computed [Trichopoulou et al., N Engl J Med 348 (2003), 2599]. Data on seven asthma and rhinitis-related outcomes were obtained from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire.
Results: Adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern was inversely associated with asthma ever (OR = 0.60, 95% CI = 0.40-0.91), wheezing ever (0.64, 0.47-0.87), rhinitis ever (0.41, 0.22-0.77), sneezing ever (0.79, 0.59-1.07), current sneezing (0.71, 0.52-0.96) and current itchy-watery eyes (0.63, 0.42-0.95). No associations were found using the mothers' pregnancy diet score, except for current sneezing (0.71, 0.53-0.97).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest a protective effect of following a healthy dietary pattern on asthma and allergic rhinitis in Mexican children.