British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Consumption of organic foods and risk of atopic disease during the first 2 years of life in the Netherlands

Ischa Kummelinga1a2, Carel Thijsa1a3 c1, Machteld Hubera4, Lucy P. L. van de Vijvera4, Bianca E. P. Snijdersa1, John Pendersa3, Foekje Stelmaa1a5, Ronald van Reea6, Piet A. van den Brandta1 and Pieter C. Dagneliea3

a1 Department of Epidemiology, Care and Public Health Research Institute (Caphri), Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

a2 Respiratory Epidemiology and Public Health Group, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK

a3 Department of Epidemiology, Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, the Netherlands

a4 Department of Health Care and Nutrition, Louis Bolk Institute, Driebergen, the Netherlands

a5 Department of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital of Maastricht, Maastricht, the Netherlands

a6 Department of Experimental Immunology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands


We prospectively investigated whether organic food consumption by infants was associated with developing atopic manifestations in the first 2 years of life. The KOALA Birth Cohort Study in the Netherlands (n 2764) measured organic food consumption, eczema and wheeze in infants until age 2 years using repeated questionnaires. Diet was defined as conventional ( < 50 % organic), moderately organic (50–90 % organic) and strictly organic (>90 % organic). Venous blood samples taken from 815 infants at 2 years of age were analysed for total and specific IgE. Multivariate logistic regression models were fitted to control for potential confounding factors. Eczema was present in 32 % of infants, recurrent wheeze in 11 % and prolonged wheezing in 5 %. At 2 years of age, 27 % of children were sensitised against at least one allergen. Of all the children, 10 % had consumed a moderately organic diet and 6 % a strictly organic diet. Consumption of organic dairy products was associated with lower eczema risk (OR 0·64 (95 % CI 0·44, 0·93)), but there was no association of organic meat, fruit, vegetables or eggs, or the proportion of organic products within the total diet with the development of eczema, wheeze or atopic sensitisation. Further studies to substantiate these results are warranted.

(Received February 14 2007)

(Revised July 19 2007)

(Accepted July 20 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Carel Thijs, fax +31 43 3884128, email


Abbreviations: IU, international unit