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Early fish may prevent asthma

Wednesday November 23rd, 2011

Including fish in baby food after weaning may help prevent asthma-type problems developing, researchers from Sweden reported yesterday.

Some common medications can increase the risk, according to the study of more than 4,000 families.

According to the researchers, getting a child to eat fish - even white fish - before the age of nine months nearly halves the risk of breathing trouble when they start school.

But if they have been given antibiotics in the first week of life, it doubles the risk.

And if the mother takes paracetamol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy, it increases the risk by 60 per cent.

In the study, conducted by the University of Gothenburg, about 20 per cent of children had suffered from wheezing in their fifth year. Three quarters of these had been given asthma medication.

About ten per cent of the children with recurrent wheeze had been given antibiotics shortly after being born. And 7.7 per cent of mothers had taken paracetamol during pregnancy.

The research is reported in the journal Acta Paediatrica.

Researcher Dr Emma Goksor, from the Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, Gothenburg, said: "Recurrent wheeze is a very common clinical problem in preschool children and there is a need for better medical treatment and improved understanding of the underlying mechanisms.

"The aim of our study was to identify both important risk factors and protective factors for the disease.

"We believe our findings provide useful information on three important factors involved in pre-school wheeze."

She added: "Our findings clearly show that while fish has a protective effect against developing pre-school wheeze, children who had antibiotics in the first week of life and whose mothers took paracetamol during pregnancy faced an increased risk, particularly of multiple-trigger wheeze."

Preschool wheeze – impact of early fish introduction and neonatal antibiotics. Goksör et al. Acta Paediatrica. 100, pp1561-1566. December 2011 doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02411.x

Prenatal paracetamol exposure and risk of wheeze at preschool age. Goksör et al. Acta Paediatrica. 100, pp 1567-1571. December 2011 doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02403.x

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diet & Food | Europe | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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