Mother’s diet influences baby’s allergy risk: Study
London: Soon-to-be mothers please note: You can cut the chances of your baby developing food allergies by eating a diet rich in oily fish and nuts, scientists say.
Researchers from France’s National Agricultural Research Institute (INRA) discovered that omega-3 fatty acids — found in fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, as well as walnuts, pumpkin seeds and linseeds — prompt the gut to develop in a way that boosts the immune system.
The researchers found that when mothers-to-be ate a diet high in a particular group of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), the gut walls of their offspring were more permeable.
This allowed more broken down food substances and germs to pass into the bloodstream, triggering the baby’s immune system to produce antibodies, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Dr Gaelle Boudry, from the INRA, explained: “Our study identifies that a certain group of polyunsaturated fatty acids causes a change in how a baby�s gut develops, which in turn might change how the gut immune system develops.
“The end result is that the baby�s immune system may develop and mature faster — leading to better immune function and less likelihood of suffering allergies.”
According to the researchers, food allergy is a growing problem now, with the number of related hospital admissions in Britain rising six-fold since 1990.
A recent study from the Isle of Wight found that one in 20 children did have an allergy. It also found evidence that the real incidence was growing.
Allergy experts do not really know what is behind the rise. One theory is the “hygiene hypothesis” — that as homes have become cleaner, children’s immune systems now have less chance to develop fully.
More and more attention is also being paid to the role of early exposure to foods, both in the first years of life and in the womb.