Ethnic differences in maternal diet in pregnancy and infant eczema
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BACKGROUND: The global prevalence of childhood eczema has increased over the last few decades, with a marked increase in high-income countries. Differences in prevalence of childhood eczema between countries and ethnicities suggest that genetic and early modifiable environmental factors, such as dietary intake, may underlie this observation. To investigate the association between pregnancy diet and infant eczema in a consortium of prospective Canadian birth cohorts predominantly comprised of white Europeans and South Asians. METHODS: We evaluated the association of maternal dietary patterns reported during pregnancy (assessed at 24-28 weeks gestation using a semi-quantitiative food-frequency questionnaire) with parent-reported physician-diagnosed infant eczema at 1-year from 2,160 mother-infant pairs. Using three dietary patterns ("Western", "plant-based", and "Balanced") previously derived in this cohort using principal component analysis, we used multivariable logistic regression to determine the association of these dietary patterns with infant eczema, adjusted for potential confounders. RESULTS: We observed a lower odds of eczema in the full sample combining white Europeans and South Asians with greater adherence to a plant-based (OR = 0.65; 95% CI: 0.55, 0.76; <0.001) and Western dietary pattern (OR = 0.73; 95% CI: 0.60, 0.89; P<0.01), after adjusting for other known predictors of eczema, including ethnicity, which was not significant. No associations were observed for the balanced diet. An interaction between the Western diet and ethnicity was observed (P<0.001). Following stratification by ethnicity, a protective association between the plant-based diet and infant eczema was confirmed in both white Europeans (OR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.47, 0.74; P<0.001) and South Asians (OR = 0.77; 95% CI: 0.61, 0.97; P = 0.025). In white Europeans only, a Western diet was associated with a lower odds of infant eczema (OR = 0.69; 95% CI: 0.56, 0.87; P = 0.001) while a balanced diet increased the odds of infant eczema (OR = 1.23; 95% CI: 1.02, 1.49; P = 0.03). Beyond a plant-based diet, no significant associations with other dietary patterns were observed in South Asians. CONCLUSION: A plant-based diet during pregnancy is associated with a lowered odds of infant eczema at 1 year in all participants. Future studies of the components of plant-based diet which underlie the lower risk of eczema are needed.
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