Use of cod liver oil during pregnancy associated with lower risk of Type I diabetes in the offspring

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Aims/hypothesis. To test whether cod liver oil or vitamin D supplements either taken by the mother during pregnancy or by the child in the first year of life is associated with lower risk of Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus in children. Methods. We carried out a population-based case control study in Vest-Agder county of Norway, evaluating the use of supplements by a mailed questionnaire. We received responses from 85 diabetic subjects and 1071 control subjects. Odds ratios (OR) with 95 % confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using logistic regression analyses. Results. When mothers took cod liver oil during pregnancy their offspring had a lower risk of diabetes. The unadjusted OR was 0.30, 95 % CI: (0.12 to 0.75), p = 0.01. This association changed very little and was still significant after adjusting for age, sex, breastfeeding and maternal education. Mothers taking multivitamin supplements during pregnancy [adjusted OR = 1.11, 95 % CI: (0.69 to 1.77)], infants taking cod liver oil in the first year of life [adjusted OR = 0.82, 95 % CI: (0.47 to 1.42) and the use of other vitamin D supplements in the first year of life [adjusted OR = 1.27, 95 % CI: (0.70 to 2.31)] was significantly associated with the risk of diabetes. Conclusion/interpretation. We found that cod liver oil taken during pregnancy was associated with reduced risk of Type I diabetes in the offspring. This suggests that vitamin D or the n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in the cod liver oil, or both, have a protective effect aginst Type I diabetes. [Diabetologia (2000) 43: 1093–1098]

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Received: 19 April 2000 and in revised form: 6 June 2000

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Stene, L., Ulriksen, J., Magnus, P. et al. Use of cod liver oil during pregnancy associated with lower risk of Type I diabetes in the offspring. Diabetologia 43, 1093–1098 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s001250051499

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  • Keywords Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus
  • diet
  • vitamin D
  • case control study
  • aetiology.