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How does the diet of pregnant women affect children?
Researchers have now found that pregnant women can take fish oil supplements and probiotics to reduce the risk of food allergies and eczema in their children.
In their investigation, Imperial College London scientists found that taking fish oil supplements and probiotics in pregnant women reduces the likelihood of food allergies and eczema in their children. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "PLOS Medicine".
Researchers evaluated data from over 400 studies
For their research work on the effects of eating pregnant women on the food allergy and eczema risks of their babies, the experts evaluated the data from over 400 studies with more than 1.5 million people.
How do fish oil capsules and probiotics work?
For example, the researchers found that taking fish oil capsules daily from the 20th week of pregnancy and during the first three to four months of breastfeeding reduces the risk of egg allergy in the child by 30 percent. The researchers also found that taking a daily probiotic supplement during the 36th to 38th week of pregnancy and during the first three to six months of breastfeeding reduced the risk of developing eczema by 22 percent.
Results must be considered in future guidelines
Food allergies and eczema in children are a growing problem worldwide, explains study author Dr. Robert Boyle from Imperial College London. "Although there has been some evidence that a woman's diet during pregnancy affects the risk of developing allergies or eczema in their babies, there has never been such a comprehensive analysis of the data," explains Dr Robert Boyle in a press release. “Our research suggests that probiotics and fish oil supplements can reduce a child's risk of suffering from an allergic disease. These results must be taken into account when the guidelines for pregnant women are updated, ”adds the expert.
More research is needed
The team also examined a number of different nutritional factors during pregnancy, including fruit, vegetable and vitamin intake, but found no clear evidence that any of these substances affected allergy or eczema risk. The scientists also found no evidence that avoiding potentially allergenic foods such as nuts, dairy products, and eggs during pregnancy affects a child's allergy or eczema risk. Further research is now needed to better understand how probiotics and fish oils can reduce the risk of allergies and eczema, explains Dr. Vanessa Garcia-Larsen from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London.
What do probiotics do?
Even though there are more and more allergies and eczema in children and millions are affected, medical professionals are still looking for the causes of these diseases and ways to prevent them. In their study, the experts also analyzed 28 studies with probiotic supplements that were taken during pregnancy. Around 6,000 women took part. So-called probiotics contain living bacteria, which can affect the natural balance of bacteria in the intestine. Previous research has linked a disruption of naturally occurring bacteria to an allergy risk.
How do probiotics affect the risk of eczema?
The study used probiotics as capsules, powder or drink during pregnancy and lactation (most yogurts do not contain enough probiotics). It was found that the risk of a child developing eczema between the ages of six months and three years was reduced by 22 percent.
How did taking fish oil supplements work?
The team also looked at 19 studies of fish oil supplements during pregnancy involving around 15,000 people. These studies found a 30 percent reduction in the risk of egg allergy at one year of age. In the studies with fish oil supplements, the capsules contained a standard dose of omega-3 fatty acids (another type of fatty acid, called omega-6, did not affect the risk of allergy).
Other effects of taking fish oil supplements
The team also found that taking fish oil while pregnant reduced the child's risk of peanut allergy by 38 percent. However, the researchers warned that this finding was based on only two studies and was not as reliable as its effects on egg allergy and eczema. The study also found some evidence of a relationship between longer breastfeeding times and a reduced risk of eczema. Breastfeeding was also associated with a lower risk of type 1 diabetes. (as)