Original Article

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2013) 67, 353–359; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.36; published online 27 February 2013

Maternal nutrition, infants and children

Maternal fish consumption during pregnancy and risks of wheezing and eczema in childhood: The Generation R Study

E T M Leermakers1,2,3, A M M Sonnenschein-van der Voort1,2,3, D H M Heppe1,2,3, J C de Jongste1,3, H A Moll3, O H Franco2, A Hofman2, V W V Jaddoe1,2,3 and L Duijts1,2,3

  1. 1The Generation R Study Group, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Paediatrics, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Correspondence: Dr L Duijts, Erasmus Medical Center—Sophia Children’s Hospital, Sp-3435, PO Box 2060, Rotterdam 3000 CB, The Netherlands. E-mail: l.duijts@erasmusmc.nl

Received 12 September 2012; Revised 20 January 2013; Accepted 22 January 2013
Advance online publication 27 February 2013





Maternal fish consumption during pregnancy might influence the fetal immune system through anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids, and might affect the risks of childhood asthma and atopy. In Generation R, a prospective cohort study in the Netherlands, we examined the associations of first trimester fish consumption with childhood wheezing and eczema in the first 4 years of life.



In total, 2976 mothers completed a 293-item semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire covering dietary intake in the first trimester. The occurrence of wheezing and eczema was yearly assessed by questionnaires.



Median weekly fish consumption was 83 (95% range 0–316) grams per week. We observed no consistent associations of maternal total-, lean- or fatty-fish consumption during pregnancy with the risks of childhood wheezing. Maternal shellfish consumption of 1–13g per week was associated with overall increased risks of childhood wheezing and eczema (OR 1.20 (1.04, 1.40) and OR 1.18 (1.01, 1.37), respectively). Maternal fatty fish consumption of 35–69g per week was associated with increased overall risks of childhood eczema (OR 1.17 (1.00, 1.38)), but maternal total- or lean-fish consumption was not.



During pregnancy, shellfish consumption was associated with increased risks of wheezing and eczema, while fatty fish consumption was associated with a higher risk of eczema only. Maternal total fish or lean fish consumption were not associated with wheezing or eczema. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings and to explore underlying mechanisms.


pregnancy; fish consumption; asthma symptoms; eczema; cohort study; atopy

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