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Keywords:

  • autoantibodies;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • epidemiology;
  • food;
  • type 1;
  • pregnancy

Virtanen SM, Uusitalo L, Kenward MG, Nevalainen J, Uusitalo U, Kronberg-Kippilä C, Ovaskainen M-L, Arkkola T, Niinistö S, Hakulinen T, Ahonen S, Simell O, Ilonen J, Veijola R, Knip M. Maternal food consumption during pregnancy and risk of advanced β-cell autoimmunity in the offspring.

Background: Evidence for a putative role of maternal diet during pregnancy in the development of β-cell autoimmunity in the child is scarce. The authors study the association of food consumption during pregnancy and the development of β-cell autoimmunity in the offspring.

Subjects and methods: A prospective Finnish birth cohort of 4297 infants with human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DQB1-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes and their mothers. Blood samples were collected from the children at 3–12 months intervals to measure type 1 diabetes-associated antibodies: antibodies against islet cells (ICA), insulin, glutamate dehydroxylase, and islet antigen 2. The mothers completed a validated food frequency questionnaire. The end-point was repeated positivity for ICA together with at least one of the other three antibodies. Piecewise-exponential survival models were used. The effective sample size was 3723, with 138 end-points. The median follow-up time was 4.4 years.

Results: Maternal consumption of butter, low-fat margarines, berries, and coffee were inversely associated with the development of advanced β-cell autoimmunity in the offspring, adjusted for genetic risk group and familial diabetes. These associations for low-fat margarines (use vs. non-use HR 0.60, 95% CI: 0.38–0.93, p = 0.02), berries (continuous variable HR 0.90, 95% CI: 0.83–0.98, p = 0.02) and coffee (highest quarter vs. lowest HR 0.62, 95% CI: 0.40–0.97, p = 0.04), remained significant when adjusting for potential confounding sociodemographic, perinatal, and other dietary factors.

Conclusions: In this study assessing total food consumption of the mother during pregnancy, only few among the 27 food groups tested were weakly related to the development of advanced β-cell autoimmunity in Finnish children.