Diet has emerged in recent years as a likely contributor to rising asthma levels, University of Aberdeen researchers will tell a public event in the city on Monday night (March 15).
What mums-to-be eat during pregnancy could have a bearing on whether their babies develop asthma, the Café Med session - taking place at 6pm at the Suttie Centre at Foresterhill- will hear.
Around four million adults and one million children have asthma in the UK. Asthma levels have increased considerably - in the 1960s around 4% of children had the condition, now around 25% of kids and 5 to 10% of adults are sufferers.
Our diet has changed radically over the years and University researchers - who have studied the diet of pregnant mums and the health of their offspring - will explain how this has possibly impacted on the development of asthma and allergies in children.
Professor Graham Devereux, asthma and allergy researcher at the University of Aberdeen and respiratory consultant with NHS Grampian, said: “The food we eat nowadays is completely different. We used to eat food that was in season that was locally produced and prepared ourselves.
“Now we eat food regardless of the seasons that may have travelled thousands of miles to get to our plate. Our food is more processed and there is evidence that the nutrient content has also changed.
“Our work has shown that have mums-to-be that have a diet that is low in foods containing vitamin E – some examples are grains, nuts and cereals – are more likely to have kids who have asthma.
“There are also associations between fats, zinc, vitamin D and selenium. Our findings have been replicated by researchers in America and Japan.
“We also found evidence that a maternal diet low in vitamin E affects the way the babies lungs developed and how the immune system responded to allergens.”
The University findings follow an observational study of pregnant women in the North-east in 1997 and 1998. Researchers then followed up the health of their offspring at the ages of one, two, five and 10.
In the wake of the research, Julia Clark, a dietitian with NHS Grampian, designed an intervention study for pregnant women that helped introduce more vitamin E, zinc, selenium and vitamin D to their diet.
She will describe her study – which was piloted last year involving 43 pregnant women in the North-east – at the Café Med event which is organised by the University’s public engagement team.
The talk - which includes a question and answer session - is open to all. Anyone interested in attending should just head along to the Suttie Centre’s café.
For more information about the Café Med and other Café Scientifique talks organised by the University see: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/science/cafescience/
The Café Med sessions — like all the Café Scientifique events - are supported by a science engagement grant from the Scottish Government.