Babies’ Eating Fish Cuts Eczema Odds

Eczema is a common skin condition in children, and has been getting more common in recent decades, now affecting as many as 1 in 3 babies in some parts of the world. We know that heredity plays a big role in a child’s odds of getting eczema, but the recent rapid rise of eczema suggests that something in the environment can trigger eczema or protect from eczema. What role does food play?

Many people still suggest delaying introducing eggs, milk, or fish to babies in an attempt to prevent eczema or other allergies – even though there is not good evidence to support this approach for otherwise healthy children born on time.

Now, researchers in Sweden have followed more than 8000 families to see if there was a correlation between the timing of certain foods and eczema. As expected, they found that having a family member with eczema raises the odds considerably, especially if it is a sibling (up 87 percent) or a mom (up 40 percent).

Starting fish before 9 months cut the odds of eczema considerably (down 24 percent). This study didn’t find any differences based on when children started eggs or dairy products.

Other studies have suggested that starting dairy early, choosing organic dairy, giving omega-3 fats, and giving probiotics may also reduce the risk of eczema.

Alm B, Åberg N, Erdes L, Möllborg P, Pettersson R, Norvenius G, Goksör E, and Wennergren G.Early introduction of fish decreases the risk of eczema in infants. Archives of Disease in Childhood.. 2008; doi:10.1136/adc.2008.140418.

Published on: September 27, 2008
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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