A recent study published in the journal PLOS One shows that that kids with high levels of poly-unsaturated fatty acids in umbilical cord blood at birth are more likely to develop respiratory and skin allergies by their early teens.

The researchers, led by Malin Barman and his colleagues at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden followed roughly 800 children that were born between 1996 and 1997 for a diagnosis of allergies by age 13. They studied a subset of 44 that were diagnosed with respiratory related allergies, 37 with chronic skin related allergies and 48 allergy-free children. The cord blood samples taken at birth show that the children with allergies had much higher levels of poly-unsaturated fatty acids.

The children with allergies had higher proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 levels in the cord blood samples at birth. These children also had lower levels of mono-unsaturated fats in their cord blood. There was no difference in the levels if the mother suffered from allergies, or not.

“The mechanism by which these lipids affect allergy development is unknown, but may involve dampening of the immune activation in infancy needed for proper maturation of the infant’s immune system,” the researchers wrote.

Ramie Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT