Article | Published:

Food and health

Maternal vegetable intake in early pregnancy and wheeze in offspring at the age of 2 years

European Journal of Clinical Nutritionvolume 72pages761771 (2018) | Download Citation



Vegetable intake during childhood may reduce the risk of subsequent asthma. We verified the effect of maternal intake during pregnancy on asthma risk in offspring, which has rarely been studied.


In a hospital-based birth cohort study conducted in Tokyo, we administered a food frequency questionnaire at two periods during the respondents’ pregnancy: early and mid to late periods. In addition, a questionnaire including the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire was conducted when the offspring were 2 years old. Multivariate Poisson regression adjusting for maternal baseline demographics was used to elucidate the association between maternal vegetable intake and the incidence of wheeze in the offspring.


Among 310 singletons, 82 (26.5%) experienced wheeze at 2 years of age. Women with the highest intake of cruciferous, and folate-rich vegetables during early pregnancy reported a significantly lower prevalence of wheeze in their child at 2 years of age in comparison with those who reported the lowest intake (adjusted risk ratio: 0.48 and 0.47, 95% confidence interval: 0.26–0.89, and 0.25–0.87, respectively). In trend analysis, a higher maternal intake of cruciferous, folate-rich vegetables, and total vegetables during early pregnancy was less likely to be associated with wheeze in the offspring at 2 years old (p for trend: 0.038, <0.001, and 0.028, respectively). Maternal vegetable intake during mid to late pregnancy was not associated with wheeze in the offspring.


Maternal vegetable intake during early pregnancy may have a protective effect against asthma in offspring at 2 years of age.

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We are deeply grateful to all participants in this study, and to the hospital staff for their cooperation. We would like to thank Mr. James R. Valera and Ms. Emma Barber of the Department of Education for Clinical Research of the National Center for Child Health and Development for their assistance with editing this manuscript.


This work was partially supported by grants from the Research Development Grant for Child Health and Development from the National Center for Child Health and Development (25–4). The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Author information


  1. Department of Social Medicine, National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, 2-10-1 Okura, Tokyo, 157-8535, Japan

    • Kohei Ogawa
    • , Naho Morisaki
    • , Seung Chik Jwa
    •  & Takeo Fujiwara
  2. Center for Maternal-Fetal, Neonatal and Reproductive Medicine, National Center for Child Health and Development, 2-10-1 Okura, Tokyo, 157-8535, Japan

    • Kohei Ogawa
    •  & Haruhiko Sago
  3. Collaborative Departments of Advanced Pediatric Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Tohoku University, 2-1 Seiryotyo, aoba-ku, Sendaishi, 980-8575, Japan

    • Kohei Ogawa
    •  & Haruhiko Sago
  4. Department of Food Science, Otsuma Women’s University, 12 Sanbancho, Tokyo, 102-8537, Japan

    • Minatsu Kobayashi
  5. Department of Global Health Promotion, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 1-5-45 Yushima, Tokyo, 113-8510, Japan

    • Yukako Tani
    •  & Takeo Fujiwara
  6. Research Fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 5-3-1, Kojimachi, Tokyo, Japan

    • Yukako Tani
  7. Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Center for Child Health and Development, 2-10-1 Okura, Tokyo, 157-8535, Japan

    • Reiko Horikawa


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kohei Ogawa.

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