The data showed that the ideal range for gestational weight gain during pregnancy with twins varies with BMI prior to conception.  Source: Adobe Stock

Low-carb diets high in pregnant women increase the risk of developing allergic diseases in infants

September 15, 2022

2 minutes to read

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The main takeaway:

  • Infants of pregnant women on a diet low and high in carbohydrates were at increased risk of developing allergic diseases.
  • Replacing 5% of energy from carbohydrates for protein or fat in a carbohydrate-rich diet reduced the risk of IgE-mediated allergic disease.
  • Replacing 5% of energy from fat for carbohydrates in a low-carb diet also reduces the risk of IgE-induced allergic disease.

Higher risk of allergic disease in infants associated with both protein and low-carbohydrate fats and mother’s diets high in carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, according to a study published in Children’s allergy and immunity.

“To our knowledge, these are new findings regarding the association of a mother’s low-carbohydrate (LCD) diet with infant allergy,” Shi Chen, PhD, from the Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene at Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Tongji Medical College in Wuhan, China, and colleagues. “Epidemiological studies among pregnant women have reported a U-shaped association between maternal LCD score during pregnancy and gestational diabetes risk (GDM), and our findings linking maternal LCD score during pregnancy to infant allergic disease confirmed the long-term effect of the regimen.” diet during pregnancy.

Source: Adobe Stock

A prospective cohort study involving 1,636 mother-infant pairs from the Tongji Cohort Study of Maternal and Child Health in China. The researchers sought to monitor the relationship between the LCD scores of pregnant women and the risk of developing allergic diseases in infants up to the age of two.

Participants answered food frequency questionnaires during late pregnancy, and the researchers assigned LCD scores—higher scores indicated lower carbohydrate consumption—based on the mother’s percentage of dietary energy intake from carbohydrates, protein and fat. Quintiles were created using LCD scores and macronutrient intake.

Follow-ups to check for allergic diseases were performed at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months after birth.

Overall, 230 infants (14.2%) developed IgE-mediated allergic diseases, such as eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis. 77 (4.7%) had allergic contact dermatitis. and 488 (29.8%) had a food allergy.

The results demonstrated an increased risk of IgE-mediated allergic disease in infants of mothers at both the highest (adjusted RR = 1.72; 95% CI, 1.22–2.63) and the lowest (aRR = 1.77; 95% CI, 1.13–2.77) overall LCD score. compared to the middle quintile.

The researchers also found that for women on a diet rich in carbohydrates (LCD score <15), they replaced 5% of energy from carbohydrates with protein (RR = 0.39; 95% CI, 0.24-0.64) or fat (RR = 0.95; 95%) CI, 0-0.995) decreased IgE-mediated risk of allergic disease.

Similarly, a reduced risk was also observed when pregnant women who followed a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD score of 15) converted 5% of energy from fat with carbohydrates (RR = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.77–0.78).

“These results indicate that not only the amount of macronutrients, but also their sources and components show varying associations with health outcomes,” Chen and colleagues write. “If emphasized further, dietary guidelines for macronutrient intake should take into account the divergent associations of high-quality carbohydrates, animal protein, and animal fats. This study provided an appropriate strategy for preventing allergic disease in early life and suggested that public health recommendations should focus on improving sources of macronutrients”.

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