Pregnant women who regularly consume apples and fish may reduce their children’s risk of developing asthma and allergic diseases, according to findings presented at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society meeting in San Francisco in May.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland studied 1,212 children born to women who had filled out food questionnaires at 32 weeks’ gestation. When the children were 5 years old, their mothers completed additional questionnaires, this time about their children as well. The children were also given lung-function and allergy tests.
Children whose mothers ate more than four apples a week during pregnancy were 46% less likely to have asthma symptoms and 53% less likely to have doctor-confirmed asthma compared with children of mothers who ate no more than one apple each week. In addition, children of women who ate fish at least once per week were 43% less likely to have eczema at age 5 than children of mothers who avoided fish.
The researchers attribute the beneficial effect of apples to antioxidants, while fish’s protective effect may come from omega-3 fatty acids. This complements earlier observations of favorable associations with vitamin E, vitamin D, and zinc.