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Prenatal Nutrition, Postnatal Allergy Protection
Date:1/4/2009

Certain foods consumed during pregnancy might protect against asthma and eczema,,

SUNDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- An apple a day while you're pregnant may indeed keep the doctor away. But the real beneficiary could be your unborn child.

Recent research suggests that when moms-to-be eat apples during pregnancy, their offspring have lower rates of asthma.

And, mothers who consume fish during pregnancy may lower their child's risk of developing the allergic skin condition called eczema.

"There are influences that occur in utero that can have lasting impact," said Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. "More and more, we're finding influences for later health develop earlier than we anticipated."

More than 20 million Americans have asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 6.2 million of those are children.

Eczema is an allergic condition that makes the skin dry and itchy. It's most common in babies and children and is sometimes called atopic dermatitis.

Dutch researchers recently followed 1,253 children from before birth to age 5. Their mothers completed food questionnaires during their pregnancies, and their children's health was assessed with a symptom questionnaire. The children's diets were also assessed.

Women who consumed the most apples during pregnancy -- more than four a week -- had children who were 37 percent less likely to have ever wheezed than children of mothers who had the lowest consumption of apples during pregnancy. Additionally, youngsters born to apple-loving moms were 46 percent less likely to have asthma symptoms and 53 percent less likely to have doctor-confirmed asthma than those whose mothers shunned the fruit.

The mechanism behind apples' apparent protective effect needs further study, but may have something to do with the
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