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Background: Environment and lifestyle contribute to the development of asthma in children. Understanding the relevant factors in this relationship may provide methods of prevention. The role of diet in the development of asthma in pre-school children was investigated.
Methods: Data from 2978 children participating in a prospective birth cohort study were used. Food frequency data were collected at the age of 2 years and related to asthma symptoms reported at the age of 3 years.
Results: The prevalence of recent asthma at age 3 was lower in children who consumed (at age 2) full cream milk daily (3.4%) than in those who did not (5.6%) and in those who consumed butter daily (1.5%) than in those who did not (5.1%). The prevalence of recent wheeze was lower in children who consumed milk products daily (13.7%) than in those who did not (18.4%) and in children who consumed butter daily (7.7%) than in those who did not (15.4%). These effects remained in a logistic regression model including different foods and confounders (adjusted odds ratio (CI) for recent asthma: full cream milk daily v rarely 0.59 (0.40 to 0.88), butter daily v rarely 0.28 (0.09 to 0.88)). Daily consumption of brown bread was also associated with lower rates of asthma and wheeze, whereas no associations were observed with the consumption of fruits, vegetables, margarine, and fish.
Conclusions: In pre-school children, frequent consumption of products containing milk fat is associated with a reduced risk of asthma symptoms.