What is it about?

Previous studies hav inmplicated breast milk fatty acids in the development of childhood allergic disease. Particular focus was set on omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids due to potentiol biological plausibility. However, among other shortcomings discussed in the paper, all previous studies have neglected compositional aspects of breast milk fatty acids. In these analyses of the Ulm Birth Cohort Study, we provide analyses on childhood wheeze and asthma accounting for compositional aspects.

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Why is it important?

Compositionality of breast milk fatty acids leads to spuriour correlation which can blur or dissemble associations of specific breast milk fatty acids with allergic disease. Accounting for compositionality, we were unable to detect meaningful associations whereas analyses of our data neglecting compositionality showed associations. Moreover, we provide evidence that grouping breast milk fatty acids merely by chemical properties (like omega-3 fatty acids) may be misleading.


This is an important piece remining of well-known aspects of compositionality. Further, it suggests that previously generated evidence may be incorrect. I call for re-evaluation of existing data using appropriate statistical methods.

PD Dr. med. Jon Genuneit
Universitat Leipzig

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This page is a summary of: New approach shows no association between maternal milk fatty acid composition and childhood wheeze or asthma, Allergy, April 2017, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/all.13161.
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