Background/objectives: Fatty-acid status during in-utero development might influence the risk of atopic diseases in early childhood. The aim of this work was to identify the relationship between maternal plasma and cord blood fatty acid (FA) composition and the risk of atopic eczema in the offspring at 14 months of age.
Subjects/methods: Two hundred and eleven non-atopic mothers and their children were studied. Mothers were recruited in their first trimester of gestation and children were monitored until 14 months of age. Samples of maternal plasma and cord blood plasma were analyzed to determine the FA profile of total lipids. Presence of atopic eczema in the infants was documented through questionnaires at 6 and 14 months of age.
Results: Higher concentrations of total long-chain polyunsaturated FA (LC-PUFA) were found in maternal plasma of non-atopic children in relation to atopic group. Moreover, this maternal plasma LC-PUFA content was negatively correlated with the atopic eczema (odds ratios (OR)=0.83, P=0.04) in infants. Regarding cord blood samples, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA C22:6n3) and the sum of total n-3 and of LC-PUFA n-3 showed a negative correlation with the prevalence of the disease (OR=0.50, 0.49 and 0.49, respectively).
Conclusions: Our results show that the fatty-acid status of the fetus during pregnancy has an important role in the development of atopic eczema in early childhood. The prevalence of this atopic disorder is related to lower cord blood plasma levels of FA belonging to n-3 series, especially DHA.