Background: The impact of maternal diet during pregnancy on child neurodevelopment is of public health and clinical relevance. We evaluated the associations of dietary quality based on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) score and dietary inflammatory potential based on the energy-adjusted Dietary Inflammatory Index (E-DII) score during pregnancy with emotional and behavioral symptoms of offspring at 7 to 10 years of age.
Methods: Individual participant data for 11,870 mother-child pairs from four European cohorts participating in the ALPHABET project were analyzed. Maternal antenatal DASH and E-DII scores were generated from self-completed food frequency questionnaires. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, aggressive behavior, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children were assessed using mother-reported tests and classified within the normal or borderline/clinical ranges using validated cutoffs. Adjusted odds ratios were determined by multivariable logistic regression models and aggregated by the two-level individual participant data meta-analysis method.
Results: Higher maternal DASH scores (indicating better dietary quality) were associated with lower risk of depressive and anxiety symptoms, aggressive behavior symptoms, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms within the borderline/clinical ranges: odds ratio [OR] 0.97, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.95-0.99; OR 0.97, 95% CI, 0.94-0.99; OR 0.97, 95% CI, 0.95-0.98, per one-unit DASH score increase, respectively. For depression and anxiety, aggressive behavior, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, a one-unit increase in E-DII scores (a more proinflammatory diet) was associated with a 7% increased risk of all three analyzed emotional and behavioral symptoms: OR 1.07, 95% CI, 1.03-1.11; OR 1.07, 95% CI, 1.02-1.13; OR 1.07, 95% CI, 1.01-1.13, respectively.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that a maternal low-quality and proinflammatory diet may increase the risk of emotional and behavioral symptoms in children.
Keywords: Aggressive behavior symptoms; Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms; Depressive and anxiety symptoms; Dietary approaches to stop hypertension; Energy-adjusted Dietary Inflammatory Index; Pregnancy.
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