Background: The rising prevalence of asthma and allergic disease remains unexplained. Several risk factors have been implicated including diet, in particular poly-unsaturated fats and antioxidant intake.
Methods: A nested case–control study comparing the dietary intake of sensitized children with recurrent wheeze (age 3–5 years) and nonsensitized children who had never wheezed was carried out within an unselected population-based cohort. Cases and controls were matched for age, sex, parental atopy, indoor allergen exposure and pet ownership. Dietary intake was assessed using a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire and nutrient analysis program.
Results: Thirty-seven case–control pairs (23 male, mean age 4.4 years) participated. Daily total polyunsaturated fat intake was significantly higher in sensitized wheezers (g/day, geometric mean, 95% confidence intervals: 7.1, 6.4–7.9) compared with nonsensitized nonwheezy children (5.6, 5.0–6.3, P = 0.003). Daily omega-3 and omega-6 fat intakes were not significantly different between the two groups. No significant differences were found in intake of any antioxidant or antioxidant cofactors between the groups.
Conclusions: Young sensitized wheezy children had a significantly higher total polyunsaturated fat intake compared with nonsensitized nonwheezy children. However, we were unable to distinguish a significant difference in specific poly-unsaturated fat intakes. Otherwise the children in both groups had a very similar nutritional intake.