Maternal fish consumption during pregnancy might influence the fetal immune system through anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids, and might affect the risks of childhood asthma and atopy. In Generation R, a prospective cohort study in the Netherlands, we examined the associations of first trimester fish consumption with childhood wheezing and eczema in the first 4 years of life.

In total, 2976 mothers completed a 293-item semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire covering dietary intake in the first trimester. The occurrence of wheezing and eczema was yearly assessed by questionnaires.

Median weekly fish consumption was 83 (95% range 0-316) grams per week. We observed no consistent associations of maternal total-, lean- or fatty-fish consumption during pregnancy with the risks of childhood wheezing. Maternal shellfish consumption of 1-13 g per week was associated with overall increased risks of childhood wheezing and eczema (OR 1.20 (1.04, 1.40) and OR 1.18 (1.01, 1.37), respectively). Maternal fatty fish consumption of 35-69 g per week was associated with increased overall risks of childhood eczema (OR 1.17 (1.00, 1.38)), but maternal total- or lean-fish consumption was not.

During pregnancy, shellfish consumption was associated with increased risks of wheezing and eczema, while fatty fish consumption was associated with a higher risk of eczema only. Maternal total fish or lean fish consumption were not associated with wheezing or eczema. Further studies are needed to replicate these findings and to explore underlying mechanisms.