Studies examining effects of prenatal polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake on childhood asthma show mixed results. Inconsistencies may result from not accounting for important modifying factors such as maternal asthma or child sex.
To examine whether associations between prenatal PUFA intake and childhood asthma are modified by prenatal active maternal asthma or child sex in 412 mother-child dyads.
Energy-adjusted prenatal dietary and supplement intakes of omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs were estimated using the Block98 Food Frequency Questionnaire, administered during pregnancy. Mothers reported asthma in children followed prospectively to 4.0±1.7 years. Generalized additive models with smooth terms for PUFA (n-3, n-6, n-6/n-3 ratio) effects were used to investigate associations between PUFAs and child asthma, without prespecifying the form of these relationships, including effect modification by active maternal asthma or child sex.
Among mothers (40% black, 31% Hispanic), 22% had active asthma in pregnancy; 17.5% of children developed asthma. Lower maternal n-3-PUFA intake was significantly associated with risk of childhood asthma (p-value(p)=0.03), in particular among children of mothers with active asthma and low n-3- PUFA intake(p=0.01). This inverse association was more apparent in girls (p=0.01) compared to boys (p=0.30), regardless of maternal asthma status. For n-6-PUFA and the n6/n3 ratio, there was a lower risk of childhood asthma in the mid-range of intake and increased risk at higher intake (n-6-PUFA p=0.10, n6/n3 ratio p=0.13).
Consideration of factors that modify effects of prenatal PUFA intake on childhood asthma has implications for designing intervention strategies tailored to impact those at greatest risk.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.