Associations between maternal antioxidant intakes in pregnancy and infant allergic outcomes

Nutrients. 2012 Nov 14;4(11):1747-58. doi: 10.3390/nu4111747.


Antioxidant intakes in pregnancy may influence fetal immune programming and the risk of allergic disease. We investigated associations between maternal intakes of β-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper and zinc, and infant allergic outcomes. Antioxidant intakes of pregnant women (n = 420) assessed prospectively by a food frequency questionnaire, were examined in relation to allergic outcomes at 1 year of age (n = 300). The main relationships with allergic outcomes were seen with dietary vitamin C and copper. Specifically, higher maternal dietary vitamin C intake was associated with a reduced risk of any diagnosed infant allergic disease and wheeze. After adjustment for potential confounders the relationship with wheeze remained statistically significant. There was also an inverse linear relationship between vitamin C and food allergy. Higher dietary copper intake was associated with reduced risk of eczema, wheeze and any allergic disease. The relationship with wheeze and any allergic disease remained statistically significant in multivariate analysis, and there was also an inverse linear relationship between copper and food allergy. However, these relationships were only seen for nutrients present in food. There were no relationships between β-carotene, vitamin E or zinc and any allergic outcomes. In summary, this study suggests that maternal diet of fresh foods rich in vitamin C is associated with reduced risk of infant wheeze, and that copper intake is associated with reduced risk of several allergic outcomes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Copper / administration & dosage
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Eczema / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Food Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage


  • Antioxidants
  • Fish Oils
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Copper
  • RNF216 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Ascorbic Acid