August 4, 2012 by Kimberly Beauchamp, ND
Dear Doctor Mama,
My husband and I have both suffered from eczema at some point in our lives. I’ve heard children are more likely to get eczema if their parents have it. Now that I’m pregnant, I’m wondering if there’s something I can do to keep my baby from getting eczema.
Itchy in Seattle
Congratulations on your upcoming addition!
It’s true that your baby may have a higher risk of eczema because both you and your husband have had it. Happily, there are some things you can do to lower his or her chance of developing it.
Having a healthy population of “gut bugs” can go a long way toward protecting your baby from eczema.
In one study, children of women who drank a probiotic-enriched milk while pregnant and breastfeeding were about half as likely to develop eczema by age 2 years as were those whose mothers drank regular milk.
To keep up the protective effect, consider offering your baby probiotic-rich foods like plain, whole milk yogurt and kefir starting at about 6 months (or as your pediatrician recommends). These foods are far easier for your baby to digest than are other dairy products, and studies suggest that the good bacteria in them help keep the immune system healthy and less likely to overreact.
Make fish a first food
Knowing when to introduce solids to your baby can be tricky. Since my own children were little, I’ve come across several revisions to the recommendations.
One recent study found that babies who were given fish before 9 months of age were 24% less likely to develop eczema than those who started eating it later.
“From our findings it is not as much the quantity of fish as the timing of introduction that carries the beneficial effects. It is therefore possible to introduce fish at an early time, perhaps as early as six to nine months of age,” said Dr. Bernt Alm, lead author of that study.
Best fish picks
As good as fish is for the body, many species are frequently contaminated with heavy metals like mercury and other pollutants.
These fish are your safest bets for children:
- wild-caught salmon
Avoid giving children these fish:
- king mackerel
- orange roughy
Keep total fish intake to less than 12-ounces per week for kids 12 years and under.
Whenever introducing a new food to your baby, wait several days before starting the next one to see if they react. In addition to serious warning signs of food allergy (hives, vomiting, difficulty breathing, coughing, swelling of the tongue, face, or lips), watch for changes in the stool, rashes, tugging or scratching at the ears, and any unusual changes in behavior.
Take a fish oil supplement
Besides boosting your baby’s brain and nervous system development, taking omega-3 fatty acids while you’re pregnant might protect your unborn baby from developing eczema and some food allergies during early childhood.
Make sure you choose a pure fish oil that’s been tested for all major contaminants by an independent lab. I trust Vital Nutrients – Ultra Pure Fish Oil 360mg/240mg 120 gels.
Thanks for your question!
Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is for educational and/or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health or that of a family member, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.