Mediterranean Diet: Prenatal Benefits?
Study Suggests Diet by Pregnant Moms Can Reduce Allergy Risk for Their Kids
WebMD News Archive
Mediterranean Diet and Allergic Disease continued...
The women completed food-frequency questionnaires during pregnancy, and they
reported on their children's diets later on. They were also asked about their
children's allergy and asthma symptoms and the
children were tested for reactions to six common allergens after age 6.
Roughly a third of the mothers were considered to have had a low-quality
Mediterranean diet while pregnant, while two-thirds were judged to have had
high-quality Mediterranean diets.
Based on this analysis, eating a high-quality Mediterranean diet during
pregnancy was associated with an 88% reduction in persistent wheeze risk among
offspring and a 45% reduction in allergic disease risk.
Chatzi tells WebMD that the findings must be duplicated, and more research
is needed to understand why a Mediterranean diet may be protective.
"We know that fruits, vegetables, and legumes are high in antioxidants,
and there is evidence that antioxidants protect against inflammatory diseases
like asthma and allergies," she says.
Safe for Pregnant Women?
But it is not clear if eating a largely plant-based diet, with protein
derived mainly from fish and eggs, is a good idea for pregnant women and their
A 1994 study found that pregnant women who followed the diet got only about
a third of the daily recommended intake of iron.
Greer says the single best thing an expectant mom can do to reduce her
child's risk for allergic disease is to plan to breastfeed exclusively for at
least four months.
That was the main recommendation of the AAP nutrition committee in its new
guidelines for preventing allergic disease, released just last week.
"The best evidence we have says breastfeeding helps protect
high-risk children against asthma and allergies," he says.