Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) dietary intake and plasma levels are inversely associated with asthma and/or recurrent wheeze and atopy at age 3 years, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in Practice.

Allergic sensitization at an early age has been associated with asthma later in life. Although genetic factors contribute to the development of asthma and atopy, diet may play a role as well. PUFAs such as omega-3 and omega-6 are believed to influence immune system function, but the results of observational analyses regarding this association have been inconclusive.

To better understand the link between dietary PUFAs and asthma/recurrent wheeze, researchers analyzed PUFA levels derived from mass spectrometry profiling and dietary PUFA intake obtained from food frequency questionnaire responses and evaluated the relationships between PUFAs and the presence of asthma/recurrent wheeze, allergic sensitization, and total immunoglobulin E at 3 years, using adjusted regression models. The combined effects of antenatal vitamin D and early childhood PUFAs on outcomes were analyzed using additional regression models.

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The analysis showed that total omega-3 and omega-6 plasma PUFA relative abundances were significantly inversely correlated with asthma/recurrent wheeze and allergic sensitization (P <.05). Dietary PUFA intake was also inversely correlated with asthma/recurrent wheeze (P <.05 for omega-6 PUFA only). These inverse associations for outcomes with dietary and plasma measures of total, omega-3, and omega-6 PUFAs were strongest for children who had both high umbilical cord blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D and high PUFA levels at age 3 years.

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Given this last finding, the authors suggested that antenatal vitamin D could lessen the effect of childhood PUFAs on the risk for asthma and allergy. However, no association was noted for the concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D at age 3 on allergic outcomes.

Disclosures: Several authors received financial support from pharmaceutical companies.


Lee-Sarwar K, Kelly RS, Lasky-Su J, et al. Dietary and plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids are inversely associated with asthma and atopy in early childhood [published online August 24, 2018]. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2018.07.039

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor