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Keywords:

  • Asthma;
  • allergy;
  • environmental exposure;
  • fresh fruit;
  • vitamin supplements

Abstract

Aim: To assess the associations between nutrition supplements in infancy and later asthma and allergy in school-age children, and to explore the impact of environmental factors in early life. Methods: Five hundred and two children underwent clinical examination, skin prick test and a second parentally completed questionnaire within 2 y of a cross-sectional questionnaire-based study, including 4585 primary school children (6–16 y old) in 1994 from urban Oslo (37%), the mountainous area of Hallingdal (42%), and the industrial, coastal area of Odda (21%). The children were selected from the 1994 survey on the basis of reported diagnosed asthma (n=166), wheeze in the last 12 mo (n=155) and no asthma/no wheeze (n=181). Questions were related to nutrition and environmental exposure in early life. Possible associations between allergic sensitization or asthma at school age and exposures were estimated by logistic regression analysis, adjusting for potential confounders. Results: Daily intake of fresh fruit or vegetables, but not extra vitamins or cod liver oil supplements, in infancy decreased the risk of asthma (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.57 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.37–0.88). Early supplements of cod liver oil and extra vitamins were associated with increased allergic sensitization (aOR 1.78 (95% CI: 1.03–3.07) and 1.71 (95% CI: 1.01–2.88), respectively). A significantly higher prevalence of allergic sensitization was found in children living in Hallingdal compared to Odda, while the latter children, on the other hand, had the highest prevalence of house dust mite allergy ( p=0.001 vs Hallingdal and p=0.04 vs Oslo).

Conclusion: The present study suggests that the early introduction of daily fresh fruit or vegetables may decrease the risk of asthma after 1 y of life, whereas allergic sensitization at school age seemed to increase with extra vitamin and cod liver oil supplements during infancy. Living area influenced allergic sensitization, with differences between coastal and inland areas.