As I describe in my book, From First Kicks to First Steps what mothers eat while they are pregnant influences the health and development of their babies in many ways. Each meal can be a gift to your baby even before you get to see each other. Among other things, some food choices can influence the odds that your baby will later develop allergies.
New research suggests that the balance between omega- 3 fatty acids (such as DHA) and omega-6 fatty acids (such as linoleic acid) can also tilt these odds. Researchers at the Leipzig Allergy Risk Children’s Study Group analyzed the fats in the colostrum from mothers of children at high risk for allergies. The results were published in the April 2004 Allergy. Those with relatively high levels of omega-6 fatty acids were the most likely to develop cow’s milk allergies. Those with the lowest levels of omega-3 fatty acids were most likely to develop allergies overall. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential in the diet – but in balance. Unfortunately, many Western diets tend to be too heavy on omega-6’s at the expense of omega-3’s. Key omega-3 fatty acids (such as DHA) are found in oily cold water fish such as tuna and wild salmon. But eating fish must be balanced against the risks of toxins like mercury and PCBs. Supplements are another good option. And other omega-3 fatty acids can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, flaxseeds, and some canola oil.