We investigated whether prenatal exposure from the maternal diet to the toxicants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins is associated with the development of immune-related diseases in childhood. Children participating in BraMat, a sub-cohort of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), were followed in the three first years of life using annual questionnaires (0-3years; n=162, 2-3years; n=180), and blood parameters were examined at three years of age (n=114). The maternal intake of the toxicants was calculated using a validated food frequency questionnaire from MoBa. Maternal exposure to PCBs and dioxins was found to be associated with an increased risk of wheeze and more frequent upper respiratory tract infections. Furthermore, maternal exposure to PCBs and dioxins was found to be associated with reduced antibody response to a measles vaccine. No associations were found between prenatal exposure and immunophenotype data, allergic sensitization and vaccine-induced antibody responses other than measles. Our results suggest that prenatal dietary exposure to PCBs and dioxins may increase the risk of wheeze and the susceptibility to infectious diseases in early childhood.
The birth cohort BraMat (n = 205; a sub-cohort of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health) was established to study whether prenatal exposure to toxicants from the maternal diet affects immunological health outcomes in children. We here report on the environmental pollutants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins, as well as acrylamide generated in food during heat treatment. The frequency of common infections, eczema or itchiness, and periods of more than 10 days of dry cough, chest tightness or wheeze (called wheeze) in the children during the first year of life was assessed by questionnaire data (n = 195). Prenatal dietary exposure to the toxicants was estimated using a validated food frequency questionnaire from MoBa. Prenatal exposure to PCBs and dioxins was found to be associated with increased risk of wheeze and exanthema subitum, and also with increased frequency of upper respiratory tract infections. We found no associations between prenatal exposure to acrylamide and the health outcomes investigated. Our results suggest that prenatal dietary exposure to dioxins and PCBs may increase the risk of wheeze and infectious diseases during the first year of life.