Mediterranean Diet in Pregnancy Helps Ward Off Childhood Asthma and Allergy

Article ID: 536872

Released: 11-Jan-2008 2:00 PM EST

Source Newsroom: British Medical Journal

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[Mediterranean diet in pregnancy is protective for wheeze and atopy in childhood Online First Thorax 2008; doi: 10.1136/thx.2007.081745]

Mums to be who eat a Mediterranean diet while pregnant could help stave off the risks of asthma and allergy in their children, suggests research published ahead of print in Thorax.

The findings are based on 468 mother and child pairs, who were tracked from pregnancy up to 6.5 years after the birth.

What the mothers ate during pregnancy and what their children were eating by the time they were 6 years old were assessed using food frequency questionnaires.

The results were then scored from 0 to 7, according to how much of their food intake matched a traditional Mediterranean diet of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, fish, dairy products and olive oil.

A score of 4 to 7 indicated a high quality Mediterranean diet, while a score of 3 or less reflected the opposite.

Parents also provided information on their children's respiratory and allergic symptoms, and the children were also tested for persistent wheezing and allergic reactions.

Just over 13% of children had persistent wheezing, while 17% responded positively to skin test allergens. Almost 6% had asthma-like symptoms plus positive skin test results.

Around one in three of the mothers (36%) ate a low quality Mediterranean diet during pregnancy. The rest ate a high quality diet

Children's dietary intake at the age of 6.5 years seemed to have little impact on their risks of asthmatic symptoms or allergy.

But their mother's diet during pregnancy was important.

Those who closely followed the traditional Mediterranean diet were significantly more likely to have children free of asthmatic symptoms and allergies than those who ate a low quality Mediterranean diet.

Consumption of vegetables more than eight times a week, fish more than three times a week, and legumes more than once a week, seemed to be particularly protective.

On the other hand, consumption of red meat more than three to four times a week seemed to increase the risks.

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