Diet may raise asthma risk in children

July 24, 2001 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Diet may raise asthma risk in children

Toddlers who consume large amounts of margarine and foods fried in vegetable oil may be twice as likely to develop asthma as their peers who eat less of these foods, preliminary research suggests.

According Australian researchers, diets high in polyunsaturated fat (found in margarine, vegetable and sunflower oils) boost levels of omega-6 fatty acids in relation to levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids contribute to the production of compounds involved in inflammation and may therefore contribute to inflammation of the airways. Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, mackerel and other types of fish inhibit inflammation.

The researchers also found that children who were breast-fed in the first weeks of life had a lower asthma risk. They note that previous studies have also linked breast-feeding with lower asthma risk, possibly because breast milk provides immune factors not present in formula.

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