Dietary factors may be important in the development of atopic eczema. It remains controversial whether n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake is preventive against allergic disorders and whether n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake increases the risk of allergic disorders.

The current cross-sectional study examined the association between intake of fatty acids and foods high in fatty acids and the prevalence of atopic eczema.

Study subjects were 1002 pregnant Japanese females. Current atopic eczema and atopic eczema after age 18 were defined as present if subjects had been treated with medications at some time in the previous 12 months and after reaching the age of 18, respectively.

Information on dietary factors was collected using a validated self-administered diet history questionnaire. Docosahexaenoic acid intake was statistically significantly related to a decreased prevalence of atopic eczema after age 18 and current atopic eczema.

Inverse dose-response relationships with regard to consumption of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid, and fish and the ratio of n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids with atopic eczema were not observed although these dietary variables in the second tertile were inversely significantly associated with atopic eczema after age 18.

Intake of total fat, saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, cholesterol, meat, eggs, or dairy products was not related to either of the outcomes for atopic eczema.

Docosahexaenoic acid intake may be associated with a reduced prevalence of atopic eczema in pregnant Japanese females.