A long term study of maternal diets and childhood allergies has been conducted by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The research, begun in 1999, started off by recruiting pregnant women and grew into a group of 1,277 pregnant mothers and the children that came from the pregnancy. The pregnant women were asked diet related questions and interviewed when they were 10 weeks pregnant and again when they were between weeks 26 and 28 of the pregnancy. Once the children were born, their health information was taken when they were six months old then again at one year of age and each year thereafter. What was discovered was that the diet of the mother had the potential to prevent allergies for the babies after they were born.
Statistical analysis showed that the mothers who ingested the highest amounts of peanuts; at least 68 percent more than the average of the group, had babies that were 47 percent less likely to develop an allergy to peanuts during their mid-childhood. Mid-childhood was defined as eight years of age. The same study concluded that women who consumed the highest levels of milk had children with a 17 percent decrease in asthma risk. The study also noted that women who ate more wheat during their second trimester had children who were 36 percent less likely to have skin reactions related to allergies.
A similar study suggests that consuming four or more apples a week during pregnancy will decrease the odds of the child having asthma or other breathing issues. In fact, the study concluded that those children were up to 53 percent less likely to have asthma than their peers whose mothers did not eat as many apples during pregnancy. This particular research was conducted on 1,253 pregnant mothers and their offspring. This research indicates that the mother’s diet may be able to prevent non-food allergies for babies whose mothers eat apples.
An additional study published in 2004 links the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to allergy risk. It appears that when the two fatty acids were not balanced in the mother, the children had higher allergy risks. Because certain types of diets are not balanced between these two types of acids, such as many Western diets which have higher omega-6 fatty acids levels and lower omega-3 ones, women on these types of diets may wish to consider balancing their intakes. Additionally, pregnant women who took fish oil supplements during the latter part of their terms had babies with significantly less allergic reactions, including allergic reactions to eggs. An allergic reaction to eggs can be an early indication of asthma and eczema.
While all these studies indicate that mothers who eat certain foods in their pregnancy diet may help prevent the onset of allergies in their babies, there are also studies that indicate the biggest cause of allergic reactions in children. Research has shown that one of the largest contributors of future sensitivities for an unborn child is when the mother smokes. Smoking during pregnancy has been found to trigger allergic reactions after birth. Additionally, a baby whose mother smoked during pregnancy that is born into a household where people smoke is at an even greater risk of having allergy issues. Research indicates, that the mother’s diet and habits may be reflected in the risk of her child succumbing to allergies after birth.
By Dee Mueller
on twitter @TuesdayDG