May 21, 2007 -- By eating apples and fish during pregnancy, women may cut their child's odds of developing asthma and allergies.
That's according to Scottish and Dutch researchers who studied more than 1,200 children from before birth to the time they were 5 years old.
During pregnancy, the kids' moms completed dietary surveys about the foods they frequently ate. The women were 32 weeks pregnant at the time.
When the children were 5 years old, the mothers reported any breathing problems and allergy symptoms that the children had ever experienced. The 5-year-old children also provided blood samples and took a lung function test.
The researchers included Saskia Willers, MSc, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
They found that children born to mothers who ate the most apples and fish during pregnancy were the least likely to have ever been diagnosed with asthma or had asthma symptoms.
Kids whose moms ate lots of fish during pregnancy were also less likely to have ever had the skin condition eczema.
The study didn't prove that apples or fish prevented asthma, but the findings held when the researchers considered other risk factors for asthma and allergies.
The researchers didn't test specific nutrients in fish or apples for beneficial effects. The key may be to get nutrients in foods, according to Willers.
"Foods contain mixtures of nutrients that may contribute more than the sum of their parts," Willers says in a news release from the American Thoracic Society.
The findings were presented yesterday in San Francisco at the American Thoracic Society's 2007 International Conference.