Women who consume dietary supplements during pregnancy may reduce the baby’s risk of developing allergies or eczema, according to a comprehensive analysis of over 400 different studies. The report found that taking probiotics during pregnancy may reduce the risk of eczema in offspring, while fish oil supplementation may reduce the risk of potential egg allergy. The massive meta-analysis involved approximately 1.5 million participants.
“Food allergies and eczema in children are a growing problem across the world,” said Robert Boyle, lead author on the research.
Researchers from the Imperial College London analyzed a wide range of different studies that focused on various dietary supplements during pregnancy, lactation, or the first year of life and their link to a potential risk of allergic or autoimmune disease in the baby. According to the analysis, there were positive effects all around for children whose mothers consumed both fish oil and probiotics during pregnancy.
Researchers found that probiotics, primarily the bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus, when taken in capsule form during late pregnancy and breastfeeding, was able to reduce a child’s risk of developing eczema by 22 percent. While the results were apparent in a number of studies, researchers have yet to figure out why probiotics reduce the risk of eczema.
When it comes to fish oil, researchers discovered that omega-3 fatty acid supplement consumed by a mother during pregnancy was able to reduce a child’s risk of developing egg allergies by 30 percent. In addition, fish oil supplements managed to reduce the risk of peanut allergies by 38 percent.
The overall recommendations from the study are for daily probiotic supplements to be taken by pregnant women after 36 weeks of pregnancy and through the first six months of lactation. Fish oil supplements should be consumed after 20 weeks of pregnancy and through the first four months of lactation.
Researchers also found no direct correlation between other dietary interventions and an increased risk of allergies or autoimmune disease in a baby.
The study was published in the journal, PLOS Medicine.
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