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Monday 24th October 2016

Fish could reduce eczema risk

29th September 2008

Babies who eat fish before the age of nine months are less likely to get eczema in childhood, a new study in Sweden has found.


Researchers found that babies who had eaten any kind of fish before that age were 24% less likely to have eczema, an allergic and sometimes debilitating skin condition.

Drawing on data from an ongoing health survey following more than 17,000 children from birth, researchers looked at risk factors for developing eczema.

They found that having a mother or sibling with eczema was the strongest risk factor for developing the allergic skin condition during the first year of life.

But fish consumption also seemed to play a role.

Lead author Bernt Alm, of Sweden's Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, said researchers had concluded that there was a real reduction in risk of eczema associated with eating fish.

The team looked at dietary and allergy data from almost 5,000 children enrolled in the Swedish health study.

They found that 14% of the infants had developed eczema by six months, and that 21% had developed it by their first birthday.

While there seemed to be a protective effect from eating fish before nine months, it did not seem to matter what kind of fish was eaten. Fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, for example, seemed to confer no extra protection.

A number of recent studies have failed to confirm that omega-3 oils have a beneficial effect on allergic diseases.

Alm said there seemed to be something special in fishthat helped to protect against eczema, but that researchers did not yet know what it was.

Further studies were needed, he added.

Allergic diseases including eczema have shown a sharp rise among young children over the last few decades, but the reasons for this remain largely unknown.

Researchers still want to clarify the role of allergic foods and the timing of their introduction, although they recognise that genetic predisposition also plays a big part in the risk.

Paediatric allergist David Fleischer of the National Jewish Medical and Research Center said food allergies contribute to about a third of moderate to severe eczema cases in children.

Dairy foods, eggs, nuts, and seafood have been linked to the development or trigger of eczema and other allergic diseases in some studies, while other research has suggested a protective benefit for some of these foods.

Researchers found no link between the timing of introduction of dairy products were introduced into the diet and eczema risk, nor any link between furry pets in the home and eczema.

Breastfeeding also seemed to have no impact on whether a child developed eczema or not.


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