Feeding Your Fetus – Can You Prevent Allergies for Your Baby?

During pregnancy, every mother-to-be is concerned about her weight and her food intake. One important question that not all pregnant women consider, however, is if the pregnancy diet can predispose a growing baby to food allergies. This is an important question, and one that can certainly impact a child’s life.

Research has conclusively proven that a baby has a 30% chance of developing allergies if the mother has allergies, and a 60% chance if both parents have allergies. If both parents have the same allergy, such as asthma, then the risk grows to 80% for the baby. There is no hard evidence that diet during the early stages of pregnancy has an impact on the growing baby, but there is evidence that diet and activity during the last three months of pregnancy may help to prevent allergic problems from developing in the baby.

Therefore, it is certainly beneficial to understand these findings for pregnant women and for prenatal care that can impact a baby’s potential for allergies.

An Apple a Day – or More

Believe it or not, a new study suggests that eating apples while pregnant may actually protect your baby from developing asthma and similar symptoms. Researchers from the Netherlands and Scotland led by S.M. Willers of Utrecht University tracked the eating habits of 2000 pregnant women and then checked the lung health of 1,253 of the subsequent children. What they found is quite surprising. The children of moms who ate four or more apples per week were 37% less likely to have wheezing problems and 53% less likely to have asthma. The results were specifically related to apples, and not tied to fruit in general or to fruit juices. Researchers speculate that it may have something to do with the phytochemical content, such as flavonoids, in apples which have been proven to have a positive influence on adult lung function. So, reach for those apples during pregnancy and enjoy!

Peanut Problems

Research results are consistent on the potential harm that peanuts can have for allergy-prone babies. If a mother is prone to allergies and there are already allergies such as eczema and asthma in the family, then research does show that the baby’s chance of having a peanut allergy increases with the quantity of peanuts the pregnant mother eats. If your family is already prone to allergies, then peanuts should probably be avoided during the later stages of the pregnancy.

Sometimes Fat is a Good Thing

One interesting study that was published in the magazine Allergy in April of 2004 points to the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids and allergies for unborn babies. Researchers analyzed the colostrum from mothers with children who had a high risk of allergies. They found that these two fatty acids, when off balance in the pregnancy diet, have the potential to create allergy issues in children. Many Western diets have a high level of omega-6 fatty acids and a low level of omega-3. Both of these are important for the pregnancy diet in moderation and in the right balance.

One interesting study from Linkoping University in Sweden looked at infants from families with high risks for allergies and asthma. Some of the mothers took a fish oil supplement from the 25th week of pregnancy through to the third month of breastfeeding and others did not take the supplement. When they examined the babies at the one year mark, they found that the children from the supplement mothers had significantly fewer allergic reactions. These babies had less than half the number of reactions to eggs, which are an early indicator of eczema and asthma. Previous studies have already proven that high doses of fish oil supplements during the second part of pregnancy can aid in baby’s coordination and brainpower later in life.

Smoking as a Risk Factors

Finally, not all allergy inducers come from food. One of the biggest culprits of allergies in babies is smoking. Research has conclusively shown that smoking during pregnancy is a potential trigger of allergies for the baby. If the baby is born into a household where someone smokes, then the risk increases even more.

While babies are born with certain genetic make-ups that are unavoidable, there are some precautions that pregnant women can take in their diet and their way of life. It is essential to eat right and to get plenty of exercise and sleep during pregnancy. In addition, following these guidelines can help in preventing and avoiding common allergies in your growing baby.

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