What we know about childhood allergies and eczema:
- Approximately one in thirteen kids have food allergies and 40% of these kids have more than one food allergy.
- Food allergies are caused by the immune system overreacting to these foods, the most common food allergies are to nuts, milk, eggs and wheat.
- Kids who suffer from allergies commonly also experience eczema.
- The causes of this immune system link are not fully understood.
- Ten to twenty percent of infants have eczema and 60% of children may have eczema throughout their life.
Allergies and Eczema are on the rise, how can we prevent them?
The Imperial College of London produced a large scale study of more than 1.5 million people looking at the relationship of diet on the prevalence of allergies and eczema. The study looked at dietary factors like the amount of fruits, vegetables and avoidance of the most common food allergens, they found that these factors do not have a clear effect on allergies and eczema. A healthy diet during pregnancy is obviously important for many other reasons, but it didn’t have a huge impact on the risk of infant or childhood allergies and eczema.
- What the study did show was that fish oil and probiotics did have a positive effect on decreasing the risk for these ailments.
- The researchers found that when pregnant women took a daily fish oil capsule from 20 weeks pregnant, and during the first three to four months of breastfeeding, the risk of egg allergy in the child was reduced by 30 per cent.
- The study also found that taking a daily probiotic supplement from 36-38 weeks pregnant, and during the first three to six months of breastfeeding, reduced the risk of a child developing eczema by 22 per cent.
Why fish oil and probiotics?
Both of these supplements play a role in dampening immune reactions. Fish oil also has an anti-inflammatory action while probiotics help to restore optimal gut bacteria important for a healthy immune system. Focusing on the digestive system is important because approximately 80% of our immune system comes from our digestive system.
- All fish oil and probiotics are not created equal and the dosing may depend on the pregnant mother’s health and risk factors.
- Work with a qualified naturopathic doctor to determine the appropriate pregnancy plan for you.
Dr. Heather Krebsbach is a naturopathic doctor at Inner Gate Acupuncture. She focuses on fertility, pregnancy and postpartum care. She has guided many women through healthy pregnancies using her deep knowledge of natural medicine and naturopathic medicines.