Proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids in umbilical cord blood at birth are related to atopic eczema development in the first year of life
Journal article, 2021

Atopic eczema, the most common atopic disease in infants, may pave the way for sensitization and allergy later in childhood. Fatty acids have immune-regulating properties and may regulate skin permeability. Here we examine whether the proportions of fatty acids among the infant and maternal plasma phospholipids at birth were associated with maternal dietary intake during pregnancy and development of atopic eczema during the first year of age in the Nutritional impact on Immunological maturation during Childhood in relation to the Environment (NICE) birth cohort. Dietary data were collected with a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire, fatty acids were measured with GC-MS and atopic eczema was diagnosed by a pediatric allergologist at 12 months of age. We found that higher proportions of n-6 PUFAs (including arachidonic acid) but lower proportions of n-3 PUFAs (including DPA) in the infant’s phospholipids at birth were associated with an increased risk of atopic eczema at 12 months of age. The n-6 and n-3 PUFAs were related to maternal intake of meat and fish, respectively. Our results suggest that prenatal exposure to unsaturated fatty acids is associated with eczema development in the infant. Maternal diet during pregnancy may partly explain the fatty acid profiles in utero.

NICE birth cohort

Fatty acids



Atopic eczema

Arachidonic acid

Cord blood





Malin Barman

Karolinska Institutet

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science

Mia Stråvik

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science

Karin Broberg

Lund University

Karolinska Institutet

Anna Sandin

Umeå University

A. E. Wold

University of Gothenburg

Ann-Sofie Sandberg

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science


2072-6643 (ISSN) 20726643 (eISSN)

Vol. 13 11 3779

Early life nutrition and immune development with focus on allergy prevention

Swedish Research Council (VR) (2013-3154), 2014-01-01 -- 2018-12-31.

Mammans mat under graviditet och amning och allergi hos barnet

Jane and Dan Olssons Foundations (2020-23), 2020-05-20 -- 2021-04-30.

The role of prenatal diet- and microbiome- derived metabolome in childhood allergy development. Metabolic fingerprinting for allergy prediction

Swedish Research Council (VR) (2019-01317), 2020-01-01 -- 2023-12-31.

Subject Categories


Food Science

Nutrition and Dietetics





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