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  • Original Article
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Maternal and pediatric nutrition

Maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation and cow’s milk allergy in offspring




Diet during pregnancy and lactation may have a role in the development of allergic diseases. There are few human studies on the topic, especially focusing on food allergies. We sought to study the associations between maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation and cow’s milk allergy (CMA) in offspring.


A population-based birth cohort with human leukocyte antigen-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes was recruited in Finland between 1997 and 2004 (n=6288). Maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation was assessed by a validated, 181-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Register-based information on diagnosed CMA was obtained from the Social Insurance Institution and completed with parental reports. The associations between maternal food consumption and CMA were assessed using logistic regression, comparing the highest and the lowest quarters to the middle half of consumption.


Consumption of milk products in the highest quarter during pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of CMA in offspring (odds ratio (OR) 0.56, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.37–0.86; P<0.01). When stratified by maternal allergic rhinitis and asthma, there was evidence of an inverse association between high use of milk products and CMA in offspring of non-allergic mothers (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.13–0.69, P<0.001). Cord blood IgA correlated positively with the consumption of milk products during pregnancy, indicating exposure to CMA and activation of antigen-specific immunity in the infant during pregnancy.


High maternal consumption of milk products during pregnancy may protect children from developing CMA, especially in offspring of non-allergic mothers.

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We are extremely grateful to all the families who took part in this study. We also acknowledge the excellent collaboration of the Diabetes Prediction and Prevention research nurses, doctors, nutritionists and laboratory staff over the years. We especially thank Mirka Puputti for her work in the laboratory. The study was supported by the Academy of Finland (grants 63672, 79685, 79686, 80846, 201988, 210632, 129492 and 126813), the Finnish Paediatric Research Foundation, the Juho Vainio Foundation, the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation, the Competitive Research Funding of the Tampere University Hospital, Medical Research Funds of Turku and Oulu University Hospitals, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (grants 197032, 4-1998-274, 4-1999-731 and 4-2001-435), the Novo Nordisk Foundation and EU Biomed 2 (BMH4-CT98-3314), Doctoral Programs for Public Health, Foundation for Allergy Research, Research Foundation of Orion Corporation, Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation and the Jalmari and Rauha Ahokas Foundation.

Author contributions

SMV, JT, MKa and OV were responsible for the current study concept and design; JI, MKn and OS designed the DIPP study; SMV designed the nutrition study within DIPP; JT, SMV and OV conducted research; LV provided registry data from the Social Insurance Institute; OV was responsible for laboratory analyses of β-casein-specific IgA antibodies; MGK designed and HT carried out the statistical analysis; RV was responsible for the clinical work in Oulu; JT wrote the first version of the manuscript; PL, MKa, SMV and OV participated in the writing process; SMV had primary responsibility for the final content; all the authors contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to J Tuokkola.

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Tuokkola, J., Luukkainen, P., Tapanainen, H. et al. Maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation and cow’s milk allergy in offspring. Eur J Clin Nutr 70, 554–559 (2016).

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