Maternal diet and allergies

October 22, 2018

Diet in pregnancy and allergies.

Studies have shown that there is no reason to change your diet during pregnancy to avoid allergies and eczema in your child. This is the case even if you are considered high risk.

There is no evidence for doctors advising women to avoid foods during pregnancy or breastfeeding to protect their babies from allergic diseases like eczema and asthma.


What are allergies?

An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to substances in the environment. It may be food, mould, some medicines as well as pets, pollen and many other things. These substances are known as allergens.

Allergies are common and affect approximately 1 in 5 people in Australia, at some time in their lives.

Eczema, asthma, food reactions and hay fever are some of the most common symptoms of allergies.


The research.

Recent research included five trials and involved 952 participants, either pregnant or breastfeeding.

The women avoided milk, eggs and other potentially ‘antigenic’ (allergic) foods.

The main results showed that maternal avoidance diets during pregnancy and/or while breastfeeding are not effective in preventing allergic disease in babies.

Further studies also concluded that there was no significant protective effect for babies when their mothers were on restricted diets during breastfeeding. Skin prick tests to cow’s milk, eggs and peanut antigen were completed during the first 18 months. And also at one, two, and seven years and there was no significant reduction in the prevention of eczema.


What does it mean?

The available studies suggest that avoiding foods during pregnancy does not reduce the risk of your children developing allergies. This is regardless of whether the infant is considered high risk or not. Further trials and more research is needed.



Other findings.

The restricted diet during pregnancy which included avoidance of milk and eggs was associated with a lower gestational weight gain. The women who avoided eating these foods gained significantly less weight during pregnancy.

You can read more about food safety in pregnancy here.

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