Apples during pregnancy protects baby from asthma

Nisan 14, 2007 at 4:27 am

A new study suggests that women who eat apples while pregnant may protect their child from developing asthma and related symptoms.

In the study, researchers from The Netherlands and Scotland led by S. M. Willers of Utrecht University tracked the diets of nearly 2,000 pregnant women and checked the lung health of 1,253 of their children.

At age 5 years, 162 children (12.9 percent) had a bout of wheezing in the past year and 145 (11.6 percent) had doctor-confirmed asthma.

Among a wide variety of foods eaten and recorded by the pregnant women, only apple consumption showed a consistent protective association with the occurrence of childhood wheeze and asthma, according to the team’s report published in the medical journal Thorax. This is a novel finding, Willers and colleagues note.

The researchers found that children of moms who munched on more than 4 apples per week were 37 percent less likely to have a history of wheezing and 53 percent less likely to have doctor-confirmed asthma, compared to moms who ate one or no apples per week while pregnant.

The specific association found with apples, and not with the total amount of fruits eaten or with citrus, fruit juice or vegetable consumption, hints at an apple-specific effect, the researchers say, possible because of its phytochemical content, such as flavonoids, which have been shown to have beneficial effects on adult lung function.

The study also found that eating fish during pregnancy may curb the risk of the allergic skin condition eczema in offspring. Children of mothers who ate fish once per week or more while pregnant had a 43 percent lower risk of eczema compared to children whose mothers avoided fish altogether.

“If these results are confirmed,” say the investigators, “recommendations on dietary modification during pregnancy may help to prevent childhood asthma and allergy.”

SOURCE: Thorax, online April 5, 2007.

Reuters Health

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