Fish and dairy products can protect children from allergies
NEW research from Sweden suggests that eating oily fish while pregnant or breastfeeding, and introducing fish to children at a young age, may protect against allergies later in life.
The study by Karin Jonsson, a PhD student from the division of Food and Nutrition Science at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, looked at how the diets of children raised on farms as well as the diets of their mothers can affect the risk of developing allergies.
Previous studies have shown that farm-raised children are very seldom allergic.
Jonsson used data from the Farmflora Birth cohort, which was set up to research what kind of protection a farming environment could provide against allergies, and included a total of 65 children in the study.
The children were assessed for any existing food allergies, asthma, eczemas or hay fever.
From the 28 children living on farms, just one was allergic at the age of three years. In the control group, 10 out of 37 children had allergies at the same age.
Jonsson was surprised to see that the strongest link between diet and allergies came from eating fish, as eating fish is not directly linked to living on a farm.
However, the results showed that the healthy children had higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in their blood at birth and at four months of age, which corresponded with the mothers’ high intake of fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The children’s consumption of seafood by one year of age was also associated with lower frequency of allergy.
Similarly, the type of dairy consumed also had an effect on allergies.
Farm mothers ate more high-fat dairy products and saturated fats during pregnancy and breastfeeding and fed their children more of these food products in the first 12 months of life.
In addition, Jonsson noted that introducing fish and eggs into children’s diets before 11 months of age reduced the risk of developing allergies. – AFP