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Allergy. 2009 Dec;64(12):1766-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02099.x. Epub 2009 Oct 1.

Dietary antioxidant intake, allergic sensitization and allergic diseases in young children.

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School of Translational Medicine, University of Manchester and NIHR Translational Research Facility in Respiratory Medicine, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK.



Allergic diseases have risen in prevalence over recent decades. The aetiology remains unclear but is likely to be a result of changing lifestyle and/or environment. A reduction in antioxidant intake, consequent to reduced intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, has been suggested as a possible cause.


To investigate whether dietary antioxidant intake at age 5 was related to atopy at 5 and 8 years of age amongst children in an unselected birth cohort.


Children were followed from birth. Parents completed a validated respiratory questionnaire and children were skin prick tested at 5 and 8 years of age. Serum IgE levels were measured at age 5. At age 5, antioxidant intake was assessed using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). A nutrient analysis program computed nutrient intake, and frequency counts of foods high in the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E were assessed.


Eight hundred and sixty-one children completed both the respiratory and FFQ. Beta-carotene intake was associated with reduced risk of allergic sensitization at age 5 [0.80 (0.68-0.93)] and 8 [0.81 (0.70-0.94)]. In addition, beta-carotene intake was negatively associated with total IgE levels (P = 0.002). Vitamin E intake was associated with an increased risk of allergic sensitization [1.19 (1.02-1.39)], only at age 5. There was no association between antioxidant intakes and wheeze or eczema.


Increased beta-carotene intake was associated with a reduced risk of allergic sensitization and lower IgE levels, in 5- and 8-year-old children. Dietary antioxidants may play a role in the development of allergic sensitization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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