Carrying a child in your womb is an awesome responsibility on many levels. Most pregnant women are aware that eating healthy and taking prenatal vitamins aids in the development of a healthy child. And of course refraining from smoking, drinking alcohol and taking street drugs or excessive quantities of prescription drugs.
Some pregnant women may also listen to soothing music or talk to their unborn babies in a loving fashion because they’ve heard that can be a good thing.
But there are some other things you can do when pregnant that will specifically help protect your little one from developing asthma and/or allergies after it is born. I’ll cover some of this latest research in this post.
Stick to a Mediterranean Diet
A Mediterranean diet focuses on plant-based foods such as:
- whole grain breads & cereals
- legumes (beans, such as pinto beans, etc.)
This type of diet also includes olive oil and fish, plus low to moderate amounts of dairy products and eggs. It may also include small amounts of white meat and even smaller amounts of red meat.
In the past, studies have suggested that kids who eat like that are less likely to have asthma and allergy symptoms. Now, a new study published in the June 2008 issue of the UK journal, Thorax, has uncovered evidence that women who stick to a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy may also provide some protection to their infants from the get go.
460 mothers and their children were followed from pregnancy through the child’s sixth year to explore this issue. Rsearchers found a definite correlation between mothers who had followed a Mediterranean diet and whether their children developed asthma/allergies.
They theorize that the high levels of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids in those foods may “affect fetal development in a way that lowers risk of allergies later on.” But more research will be needed to further validate these findings. Meanwhile, pregnant women can benefit in many other ways from eating a Mediterranean diet both during and after pregnancy.
Manage Anxiety & Depression
Another study discovered that pregnant women who suffered from long-term anxiety and depression were 25% more likely to have a child who would develop asthma within the first 7 years of life. This condition was labeled “maternal distress”. Researchers are not sure why this might be so, and further study is warranted. Still, it does make a case for getting adequate treatment for anxiety and depression.
Plus, you will benefit from treatment as well, and be better equipped to care for your child safely. If you’re concerned about taking medicine for anxiety or depression during pregnancy, talk with your doctor. It may be safer than you think.
If you’re pregnant and you have allergies and/or asthma yourself, it’s especially important that you do what you can to protect your child, as you will already be passing on considerable risk for those diseases just because of your own medical history.
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.