Vitamin E deficient mothers likelier to have asthmatic children
A report published in the September, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, revealed the finding of researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Great Britain that a reduced intake of vitamin E during pregnancy increases the risk of one’s children developing wheezing and asthma by the age of five.
Graham Devereux, MD, PhD, of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Aberdeen and his colleagues analyzed data from 1,253 mothers and their children. Food frequency questionnaires administered to the mothers during pregnancy and blood plasma levels were used to evaluate vitamin E status. Respiratory and dietary questionnaires concerning the children were completed by the mothers when the children reached the age of five, at which time they were invited for spirometry and skin-prick testing.
Greater vitamin E intake by the mothers during pregnancy was associated with a lower incidence of wheeze, asthma, asthma and wheeze, and persistent wheezing observed in the children during the previous year. Children of mothers whose vitamin E intake was in the lowest 20 percent of participants had over five times the risk of early persistent asthma than those whose mothers were in the highest fifth. Increased zinc intake during pregnancy was also associated with a lower risk of asthma in children. The children’s own nutritional intake did not appear to be associated with asthma or wheezing.
In earlier research with the current group of participants, mothers whose vitamin E intake during pregnancy was relatively low were found to be at greater risk of having children who were more likely to wheeze at age two, even when not ill.
"Our findings suggest that vitamin E has a dual effect on lung function and airway inflammation and that the effects could change at differing periods of prenatal and early life," Dr Devereux stated. "The results of the present study suggest that dietary modification or supplementation during pregnancy to reduce the likelihood of childhood asthma warrants further investigation."
The incidence of asthma cases has surged in recent years, although researchers aren’t sure exactly why. According to some studies, up to 5 percent of the US population is affected by asthma, with half of these cases developing before age 10 (Kasper DL et al 2005). Asthma attacks can be triggered by allergies and environmental irritants. Scientists have also discovered links between asthma and other diseases and conditions, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and obesity (Flaherman V et al 2006).
Scientists are also beginning to better understand the interaction between allergies, asthma, and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when highly reactive molecules, known as free radicals, interact with molecules within the body, especially DNA and mitochondrial membranes. Experimental evidence suggests that some pollutants, such as vehicle exhaust, may produce oxidative stress in the bronchial tubes (Gilmour MI et al 2006). Studies suggest that dietary supplementation with precursors of glutathione (an internal antioxidant), such as cysteine and alpha-lipoic acid, can enhance the pulmonary defenses, thus countering oxidative stress (Bridgeman MM et al 1991).
As far back as the 17th century, butterbur was used to treat cough, asthma, and skin wounds (MMWR 2001). Today, researchers have uncovered the mechanism of action that makes butterbur effective.
Scientists have identified and isolated the compounds in butterbur that help reduce symptoms in asthma. Called petasins, these chemicals inhibit leukotrienes and histamines, which are responsible for symptom aggravation in asthma (Thomet OA et al 2002).
In the news: Life Extension phytoestrogen formula protects brain, nervous system; High blood pressure now common in teens; Folic acid may halt cancer progression; Calcium, vitamin D supported for bone health; Omega-3 fatty acids reduce back, neck pain; Carotenoids cut diabetes risk in nonsmokers; Cinnamon extract promotes healthy blood sugar levels; Oral contraceptives deplete CoQ10, vitamin E; Osteoporosis drug may stabilize advanced prostate cancer; Limonene, perillic acid counter spread of cancer; Melatonin may protect against breast cancer; New York state joins national fight against childhood obesity
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