Background/objectives: Diet during pregnancy and lactation may have a role in the development of allergic diseases. There are few human studies on the topic, especially focusing on food allergies. We sought to study the associations between maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation and cow's milk allergy (CMA) in offspring.
Subjects/methods: A population-based birth cohort with human leukocyte antigen-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes was recruited in Finland between 1997 and 2004 (n=6288). Maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation was assessed by a validated, 181-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Register-based information on diagnosed CMA was obtained from the Social Insurance Institution and completed with parental reports. The associations between maternal food consumption and CMA were assessed using logistic regression, comparing the highest and the lowest quarters to the middle half of consumption.
Results: Consumption of milk products in the highest quarter during pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of CMA in offspring (odds ratio (OR) 0.56, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.37-0.86; P<0.01). When stratified by maternal allergic rhinitis and asthma, there was evidence of an inverse association between high use of milk products and CMA in offspring of non-allergic mothers (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.13-0.69, P<0.001). Cord blood IgA correlated positively with the consumption of milk products during pregnancy, indicating exposure to CMA and activation of antigen-specific immunity in the infant during pregnancy.
Conclusions: High maternal consumption of milk products during pregnancy may protect children from developing CMA, especially in offspring of non-allergic mothers.