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Fish boost for allergy

Friday October 9th, 2009

Photograph of fishBy Jane Collingwood
Eating fish may be one of the best ways of reducing the impact of allergies, experts have reported.

German experts have updated the guidance for lowering children's risk of developing allergy and asthma in a wide-ranging study.

Dr Cathleen Muche-Borowski and her team the University of Freiburg, Germany, had a close look at the evidence to date.

They explain that asthma, hay fever and eczema are becoming increasingly common in Western industrialised countries but there is still no proven treatment, so prevention is of vital importance.

The team analysed the results of 217 studies and found that, overall, eating fish seemed to have a protective effect for both children and breastfeeding women. On the other hand, soy-based baby food was not beneficial.

In fact, the team states that it may have a potential harmful effect on health "because preparations of this type contain phytoestrogens".

They recommend avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke and breastfeeding for the first four months of an infant's life. Delaying the introduction of solid food after four months does not appear to have a beneficial effect, contrary to previous suggestions.

Getting rid of dust mites and furry pets (particularly cats) in the home is recommended in the guidelines, but immune therapies are not. Vaccination has shown a protective effect, but the avoidance of common dietary allergens is not recommended.

The experts say that being overweight in childhood may raise the risk of asthma, but there is not yet enough evidence to recommend specific dietary advice for either mothers or children.

They believe: "The updated clinical guideline enables physicians to give recommendations about allergy prevention based on the current state of the evidence." Full details are published in the journal Deutsches Arzteblatt International.

Muche-Borowski, C. et al. Clinical Practice Guideline: Allergy Prevention. Deutsches Arzteblatt International, Vol. 106, October 2009, pp. 625-31.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Dermatology | Diet & Food | Europe

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