Research: HOPPU and others,

Listed in Issue 116


HOPPU and others, Department of Paediatrics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland,, have found that vitamin C in breast milk may reduce the risk of atopy in infants.


The aim of the study was to assess the effects of antioxidant vitamins (vitamin C and E, beta-carotene) taken by mothers on the antioxidant properties of their milk, and the potential protection against the development of atopy in their infants.


Pregnant women suffering from atopic disease were recruited for this study. A 4-day food diary and samples of breast milk for analysis were collected when the infants were 1 month old. Infants were tested for atopic dermatitis and for allergic reactions at the age of 1 year.


It was found that the maternal intake of vitamin C with food but not as supplement determined the vitamin C content of the milk. Higher concentrations of vitamin C in milk was associated with a lower risk for the infant to suffer from atopic dermatitis. Vitamin E had no such relationship with atopic disease. Infants whose mothers suffer from food hypersensitivity were identified as at high risk of getting milk low in vitamin C.


A maternal diet rich in natural sources of vitamin C could reduce the risk of atopic disease in their infants.


Hoppu U, Rinne M, Salo-Vaananen P, Lampi AM, Piironen V, Isolauri E. Vitamin C in breast milk may reduce the risk of atopy in the infant. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 59 (1): 123-128, Jan 2005.


This research suggests that providing pregnant and nursing women with a vitamin-C rich diet could be a factor in reducing risk of atopic illness in their infants, certainly worth implementing.

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