Kids whose moms took omega-3s while pregnant had less allergies, kids who took multi-vitamins before age four avoided allergies, and kids who took probiotics had stronger immune defenses, three new studies reveal.In an omega-3 study, 145 pregnant women with allergies, or whose husbands or previous children had allergies, took 1,600 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus 1,100 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day or a placebo. The women started taking the omega-3s at 25 weeks pregnant and continued through the fourth month of nursing. Two percent of kids whose moms took the omega-3s had food allergies compared to 15 percent of those whose moms took the placebo. The researchers also measured eczema—dry, itchy skin rash—and found that 8 percent of kids whose moms took omega-3s had eczema compared to 24 percent for placebo.
In a multi-vitamin study, parents gave researchers lifestyle information for more than 2,400 8-year-olds including vitamin supplements, environmental exposures, and symptoms and diagnoses of allergic diseases. Kids who began taking multi-vitamins before the age of four were 39 percent less likely to have food allergies and allergic runny nose compared to kids who started taking multi-vitamins later in life or who did not take multivitamins.
Doctors in a probiotics study explained that during the first year of life, infants need communities of friendly microorganisms in the intestine to develop a strong and balanced immune response and that, without these healthy living colonies, kids are much more likely to develop asthma and allergies. Researchers analyzed stool samples from six-month-olds who took Lactobacillus casei or a placebo and found that the probiotics group had a greater number and variety of probiotics species. Doctors said these friendly colonies create a stable environment in the intestines that promotes a strong immune response and helps resist disease.