Mothers need meat

Pregnant women could be encouraged to eat more meat following a link between asthma and vitamin E intake.

Pregnant women could be encouraged to eat more meat and fish, if new research showing a link between vitamin E and asthma in children is proven.

A new study, led by Dr Graham Devereux at Aberdeen University, found that mothers who do not eat enough foods containing vitamin E during pregnancy are more likely to have asthmatic children. The research showed the condition appeared to be linked to exposure to the nutrient in the womb before birth.

Devereux said a drop in people's intake of vitamin E in the past 50 years was perhaps linked to the rising number of children with asthma. But he said more work was needed before specific advice could be given to women in order to reduce the risks to their children.

The researchers found children born to mothers who had the lowest intake of vitamin E during pregnancy were about five times more likely to suffer asthma than children whose mothers had the highest intake. Asthma affects about 1.1 million children in the UK, including some 100,000 in Scotland. It is the most common long-term condition in youngsters.

Their study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, also found that two-year-olds whose mothers' vitamin E intake during pregnancy had been relatively low were more likely to wheeze, even when they did not have a cold.

Vitamin E is found chiefly in vegetable oils, margarine, wheat germ, nuts, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, meat and fish.

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