Study: Apples, Fish May Protect Babies from Asthma, Allergies

The children of women who ate apples and fish during their pregnancies appear to have a lower risk of developing asthma and some allergic diseases, according to a new study.

The SEATON study, conducted at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, found that the children of mothers who ate the most apples during their pregnancies were less likely to wheeze or have doctor-confirmed asthma at the age of 5, compared to children of mothers who had the lowest apple consumption.

And children of mothers who ate fish once or more a week were less likely to have had eczema than children of mothers who never ate fish.

In addition to apples and fish, researchers looked at other foods including vegetables, fruit juice, citrus or kiwi fruit, whole grain products, and fat from dairy products, margarine or low-fat spreads, but found no evidence that these products protected against asthma or allergic diseases.

The study looked at 1,212 children born to women that had filled out food questionnaires during their pregnancies.

Researchers went back to the same mothers when the children were age 5 and asked them to fill out questionnaires about the children’s respiratory symptoms and allergies, as well as a questionnaire about their children’s food consumption. The children were also given lung function and allergy tests.

Previous studies in the same children have found evidence for protective effects of vitamin E and D and zinc during pregnancy in reducing the risk of children’s wheeze and asthma.

Researcher Saskia Willers, M.Sc. of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said in a statement that the beneficial effect of the apples may come from its antioxidants, called flavonoids, and the protective effect from fish may come from its omega-3 fatty acids.