Baby Development Fishy Diet in Early Infancy Cuts Eczema Risk
Posted Sep 26 2008 2:55pm
By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist
There is something fishy going on, going on your plate that is. Recent studies have found fish to be highly beneficial in the diet of expecting women for improving overall health of both mother and baby. Eating fish just got even better as a new study found that letting babies eat fish may keep eczema at bay.
A few months back Mum Mums reported a significant, worldwide increase in eczema rates among infants and children. The rise in eczema had been attributed to both dietary and environmental factors. Eczema is condition typically seen in early infancy with symptoms including scaly, dry or red skin accompanied by itching. Symptoms of eczema appear in children by the age of 5 and although some children may be genetically predisposed to eczema, both food and environmental allergies can contribute.
The new study is an early release of the data to be published in next months Archives of Disease in Childhood. The infants in the study were all part of an ongoing study entitled Infants of Western Sweden, which is tracking the long term health of 17,000 babies. The parents of 6 month old babies in the study were asked questions regarding any signs of eczema as well as the babys diet. The parents were then quizzed again when the babies were 12 months of age and complete health history and both questionnaires were obtained for almost 5,000 infants.
Thirteen percent of the babies had eczema by 6 months old, and by 12 months 1 in 5 babies had the condition. The average age of onset was about 4 months old. Genetics certainly did play a role; children with a mother or sibling who had eczema were twice as likely to develop the condition by 12 months.
Despite previous knowledge of factors that can either increase or hinder the development of eczema including breastfeeding, postponing introduction of dairy products, and having a furry pet; these factors had little impact on risk. What did appear to make the most difference was the introduction of fish in an infants diet before 9 months of age, which reduced the likelihood of developing eczema by 25%.
What You Can Do
It is not advised to give your child shellfish before the age of 2 because shellfish are a common allergen; however fish and shellfish are very different. Many people with a shellfish allergy can tolerate eating fish, but be sure to discuss this with your pediatrician first. Start small with a mild fish like tilapia for your babys first fish, as it is low in mercury and doesnt have a strong fishy taste.