Listed in Issue 261


MIKKELSEN and COLLEAGUES, 1. Section for Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; 2. Närhälsan, Research and Development Primary Health Care, Region Västra Götaland, Sweden; 3. Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, DiSFeB, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; 4. Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS, Bremen, Germany; 5. Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed, Pozzilli (IS), Italy; 6. Department of Pediatrics, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary; 7. Epidemiology Unit, Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy; 8. GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition, and Development) Research Group, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain; 9. Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria, Aragón, Spain; 10. Institute of Food Sciences, CNR, Avellino, Italy.

11. Research and Education Institute of Child Health, Strovolos, Cyprus; 12. National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia; 13. Department of Public Health, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium explored the cross-sectional association between fatty acids (FA) and allergy utilizing the European multicenter study of children (IDEFICS).


Blood polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are involved in allergy development, but the etiological role of n-6 and n-3 PUFA is still controversial. A European multicenter study of children (IDEFICS) provided the opportunity to explore the cross-sectional association between fatty acids (FA) and allergy.


Blood FA levels were measured in 2600 children aged 2-9 years and were recorded as the percentage of weight of all FA detected. Logistic regression of allergy status on FA components was adjusted for age, sex, country, body mass index, family history of allergic disease, breast-feeding, and number of siblings. The results were given as odds ratios (OR) for current vs no allergy ever and an increase in FA by 1 s.d.


Overall, higher proportions of n-6 PUFA were associated with higher odds of allergy (OR=1.21 (1.05, 1.40)). Monounsaturated FA (MUFA) were associated with reduced risk for allergy (OR=0.75 (0.65, 0.87)), whereas saturated FA did not differ by allergy status. The strongest associations were observed in children <4 years old, with ORs of allergy given as 1.62 (1.15, 2.29) for n-3 PUFA and 0.63 (0.42, 0.95) for MUFA. With regard to individual FA, these associations were independently observed for docosapentaenoic acid (22:5 n-3) and oleic acid (18:1 n-9).


Both PUFA subtypes were positively associated with allergy in an age-dependent manner, whereas MUFA was associated with less allergy. The observation of high proportions of n-3 PUFA in allergic children younger than 4 years might help to understand the nature of early onset of atopic disease.


Mikkelsen A1,2, Galli C3, Eiben G1, Ahrens W4, Iacoviello L5, Molnár D6, Pala V7, Risé P3, Rodriguez G8,9, Russo P10, Tornaritis M11, Veidebaum T12, Vyncke K13, Wolters M4, Mehlig K1. Blood fatty acid composition in relation to allergy in children aged 2-9 years: results from the European IDEFICS study. Eur J Clin Nutr. Jan 2017;71(1):39-44. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.158. Epub Sep 21 2016.

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