A new study has found that women who consume apples and fish during pregnancy may lessen the risk of their babies developing asthma or allergic diseases.
The study, conducted at the University of Aberdeen, UK, found that pregnant women who ate the most apples were most likely to protect their kids from asthma, as compared to children of mothers who had the lowest apple intake.
The study also found that children of mothers who ate fish once or more a week were at a lesser risk of eczema (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eczema) than children of mothers who never ate fish.
The study did not find any defensive outcome against asthma or allergic diseases from many other foods, including vegetables, fruit juice, citrus or kiwi fruit, whole grain products, fat from dairy products or margarine or other low-fat spreads.
The researchers examined 1,212 children born to women who had completed food questionnaires while they were pregnant. When the children were five years old, the mothers again filled out a questionnaire about the children's respiratory symptoms and allergies, as well as a questionnaire about their child's food consumption.
The children were also given lung function and allergy tests. Earlier studies in the same children have found proof for defensive effects of vitamin E and D and zinc. Their mothers had taken these during pregnancy, reducing the risk of children's wheeze and asthma, notes researcher Saskia Willers, Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
"If the new results are verified," she says, "recommendations on dietary modification during pregnancy may help to prevent childhood asthma and allergy."
Willers concludes that at least until age five, a mother's diet during pregnancy might be more prominent on a child's respiratory health than the child's own diet.
She notes that further study of this group of children will be necessary to determine whether the association with the mothers' diet declines in older children, and if mothers' and their childrens' diets interrelate in older children.
Willers suggests that the positive effect of apples may come from influential antioxidants called flavonoids. The protective effect of eating fish may come from Omega 3 fatty acids, which other studies have suggested have a protective effect on the heart and may have a protective effect in asthma. "Other studies have looked at individual nutrients' effect on asthma in pregnancy, but our study looked at specific foods during pregnancy and the subsequent development of childhood asthma and allergies, which is quite new. Foods contain mixtures of nutrients that may contribute more than the sum of their parts," Willers says.