Study Finds Link Between Asthma and Mother’s Vitamin E Levels

in Asthma, News
Published: March 13, 2017

Researchers have discovered a link between a mother’s vitamin E levels and the chance of her baby developing asthma in childhood.

Doctors from Vanderbilt University and Northwestern University spent two years following 652 children, and tested their mothers for two constituents, or isoforms, of vitamin E – alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol.

Women with low concentrations of vitamin E were more likely to have children who developed wheezing, while children whose mothers had the highest levels of the vitamin were less likely to get asthma symptoms.

Lead author Dr. Cosby Stone said the team’s past studies have linked allergic inflammation in mice as well as adult onset asthma to different components of vitamin E. “We hypothesized that maternal vitamin E levels, reflecting levels that the fetus encounters during pregnancy, would affect childhood respiratory outcomes,” said Stone, an allergist with Vanderbilt’s allergy and asthma program.

Right Kind of Vitamin

Dr. Cosby Stone Photo: Vanderbilt University
How does a mother-to-be know if she is getting enough vitamin E and the right kind of vitamin E? For starters, it is important to note that major sources of vitamin E are plant oils.

“Sunflower and safflower oil are highest in the vitamin E isoform alpha-tocopherol, while corn, soy and canola oil are higher in the vitamin E isoform gamma-tocopherol. The individual isoforms have different effects on health in our human studies and animal experiments,” said Stone.

For instance, alpha-tocopherol was a focus of this research, since children born to mothers with higher levels of it were less likely to develop asthma symptoms. However, having high amounts of the gamma-tocopherol isoform was not shown to have a protective effect against symptoms such as wheezing.

These findings were presented at the March 2017 meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

See Also:
Allergic Living’s full list of conference articles here.