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Intake of vitamin E during pregnancy influences asthma risk in kids

According to a new study, low vitamin E intake by mothers during pregnancy may heighten asthma risk in their kids by the age of 5.//

Dr. Graham Devereux, of the department of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and his team conducted this study. This study was based on the findings of an earlier study conducted by the same team. Previously, they had reported that kids at the age of 2, whose mothers had low vitamin E intake during pregnancy, were more prone to wheezing, in spite of being healthy otherwise.

"This is part of a body of work that indicates that sufficient vitamin E intake is probably important," said Devereux. This recent study is published in the September issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study was conducted on around 1,250 pregnant women attending neo-natal clinics in Scotland between 1997 and 1999. Evaluation of maternal dietary intake from conception and medical histories associated with asthma, wheezing and related respiratory issues were done. The same details were collected from their kids up to the age of 5.

The team found that there was no connection between an increased wheezing or asthma risk and maternal intake of vitamin C, beta-carotene, magnesium, copper, and iron during pregnancy.

However, an increased risk for developing persistent asthma among kids, from the first 2 years up to the age of 5 was related to the low intake of vitamin E by the mother during pregnancy.

Mothers rated in the last 20% for prenatal vitamin E intake gave birth to kids who were 5 times more prone to asthma than the kids born to mothers in the top 20%. Asthma risk is not influenced by that child’s diet at the age of 5 reported the researchers.

They explained that development of fetal airways is completed by 16th week of gestation. This implies that certain dietary deficiencies, specificall y, during early pregnancy, may increase risks of childhood asthma.

“However, much more research is needed to confirm that low prenatal vitamin E helps cause childhood asthma,” Devereux said. “For that reason, it is premature for women to take vitamin E supplements, at any dosage, to help ward off asthma in their offspring,” he said.

“Vitamin E is abundant in many staple foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grain cereals, vegetable oils, meat, and fish. The average adult's daily vitamin E needs could be fully met if these foods were included in a balanced and healthy diet,” Devereux said. "It should be strongly emphasized that women should eat healthily during pregnancy and not take vitamin E supplements just because of this study," he cautioned.

Dr. Arun Jeyabalan, an assistant professor in the division of maternal fetal medicine at the University of Pittsburgh's Magee Women's Hospital agreed with Devereux.

"This is an important study because it is important to look at associations between nutrient intake, deficiencies, and potential pregnancy outcomes," she said. "However, women should be very careful about supplementation. Not all vitamins in high doses are good for anybody, and further study is needed before advocating any kind of vitamin E supplementation."


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