Mom's diet may cut infants' allergies

February 23, 2010 in Allergies & Intolerances, Nutrition Topics in the News, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Mom's diet may cut infants' allergies

Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits during pregnancy may lower the chance of having a baby with certain allergies.

Greater intake of fruits and vegetables rich in beta carotene (e.g. dark green and orange produce) and citrus fruit may lessen the risk of having a baby with eczema (itchy, dry, red patched skin), Japanese researchers found.

Foods high in vitamin E, found in some green vegetables such as kale, similarly may lessen the risk of having a wheezy infant, they report in the journal Allergy.

Beta carotene and vitamin E are two of many vegetable and fruit antioxidants thought to benefit health. But prior investigations of maternal antioxidant intake and childhood allergies offered conflicting findings.

In the current study, the research team evaluated vegetable and fruit intake during pregnancy of 763 women and their offspring's early-age eczema or allergic wheeze.

The women were 30 years old on average and about 17 weeks pregnant when they reported personal and medical history. When their babies were between 16 and 24 months old, the women provided birth and breastfeeding history, number of older siblings, and exposure to smoke.

According to the investigators, moms who ate greater amounts of green and yellow vegetables, citrus fruits, or beta carotene while pregnant were less apt to have an infant with eczema.

For example, after allowing for other eczema risk factors, eczema was more common among infants of moms who ate the least versus the most green and yellow vegetables.

Likewise, higher intake of vitamin E during pregnancy was associated a reduced likelihood of having a wheezy infant -- a finding that supports previous investigations from the U.S. and U.K.

Beta carotene-rich vegetables and fruit include carrots, winter squash, sweet potato, spinach, Swiss chard, apricots, nectarines, peaches and cantaloupe. Vitamin E-rich vegetables include kale, spinach, turnip greens, carrot juice, beet greens, dandelion greens and broccoli.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.