My eldest daughter has quite a severe nut and sesame allergy, she’s also allergic to dust, pollen, cats, horses, moulds and possibly mustard (waiting to have some more tests done).
The nut allergy is particularly scary. We have to carry an Epipen around with us at all times and there are certain types of restaurants she can never eat in.
Chinese food is a nightmare as it’s full of sesame, and the risk of cross contamination is too high.
So, as the founder of an Omega 3 company and a mother of an allergic child, I take great interest in any new research that links Omega 3 during pregnancy to reduced risk of allergies in children.
When I was pregnant with my eldest, the advice was to avoid peanuts so as to lower the risk of nut allergy. I duly avoided peanuts, even though I craved Sunpat on white toast for some reason. It turns out there’s no evidence to support this advice.
I also avoided eating too much fish because of the risk of mercury contamination. I took a fairly low quality, well known brand of pregnancy vitamins which contained a minuscule amount of Omega 3.
Some new research hit the headlines earlier this month, suggesting that diet in pregnancy could have a big impact on allergies in later life. This is a growing concern for health authorities, as one in twenty children are affected by allergies to eggs, nuts, milk and wheat among others. Egg allergy is a nightmare, as so many foods contain egg.
The trials were done by Imperial College London, and they found a 30% reduction in egg allergy risk by the time a child was one year old.
The research involved looking at 19 trials of fish oil supplements, covering 15,000 women. The other interesting finding was the benefit of probiotics during pregnancy, which reduced the risk of eczema by 22 per cent. My eldest also has eczema and asthma. I didn’t take probiotics during pregnancy as I wasn’t advised to and took the view that unless a medical professional told me to do something, I played it safe and didn’t do it.
There need to be more studies to make any firm conclusions and the research only looked at children up to the age of one. My daughter developed her nut allergy, as far as we know, when she was nearly two years old.
We also need to understand what doses of fish oil and probiotics were used, and what kind. It’s also not known how fish oil or probiotics work. I would imagine (purely speculating based on no medical training whatsoever!) the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil have something to do with it.
I wish I had been advised to take more fish oil, and better quality fish oil, during my first two pregnancies.
I suffered from awful pre and postnatal depression and I’m convinced it was in large part due to Omega 3 depletion. Who knows what other benefits I, and my babies, would have reaped from proper supplementation.
Pregnant women should avoid cod liver oil in pregnancy due to high levels of vitamin A. We have a really informative guide on nutrition in pregnancy on our website where we go through what supplements are helpful and what to avoid.
By Melanie Lawson Founder of Bare Biology, the UK’s leading premium Omega 3 brand. For more information www.barebiology.com