Moms to be who have a history of allergies and/or asthma themselves may pass a high risk of the same to their newborns. They can’t help it. It’s just that allergies tend to run in families.
But a new study published in the journal, Thorax, this month reports that eating a Mediterranean diet while pregnant can provide significant protection to a pregnant woman’s unborn child from allergies. That’s good news, isn’t it?
So, what is a Mediterranean diet, exactly? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a diet that is heavy on vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, fish, dairy products and olive oil, and light on meats, especially red meat. You can read more about this diet at the American Heart Association website.
Here are the highlights of this new study:
- 468 mother and child pairs were followed, from pregnancy up to 6.5 years after the child was born
- Mothers’ and children’s eating patterns were assessed via questionnaire
- The children were assessed for allergy symptoms such as wheezing, via interviews with parents and respiratory testing
- 13% of the children had wheezing; 17% tested positive for allergies in skin testing; 6% had asthma symptoms
- What the child ate had little effect on development of allergy symptoms
The bottom line is that mothers who followed a solid Mediterranean eating plan during pregnancy were much more likely to have kids free from allergies. This was especially true if daily intake consisted of:
- vegetables more than 8 times a week
- fish more than 3 times a week
- legumes more than once a week
On the other hand, eating red meat more than 3 to 4 times a week seemed to increase the risks that a pregnant woman’s child would develop allergies.
Kathi is an experienced consumer health education writer, with a prior career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years — much of it in the field of home health care. Over the past 15 years, she’s been an avid contributor for a number of consumer health websites, specializing in asthma, allergy, and COPD. She writes not only as a healthcare professional, but also as a lifelong sufferer of severe allergies and mild asthma, and as a caregiver for her mother with COPD.