There are several studies showing that maternal diet plays an important role in the health of offspring:
- Vegetables are beneficial to fetal growth
- Fish oil during pregnancy can reduce asthma in offspring
- Fish oil during pregnancy and lactation reduces risk of infant allergies
- Fast food negates breast feeding benefit
An interesting study was just published to determine if a particular strain of probiotic supplementation can reduce the incidence of eczema in infants that are born into a family history of allergies and eczema. There were 68 infant/mother pairs separated into a study group receiving the probiotic and a control group receiving a placebo.
The pregnant women in the study group received a probiotic with Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. lactis , and Lactobacillus acidophilus during the last 4-8 weeks of pregnancy. (The Bifidobacterium bifidum is for the large intestine and the L. acidophilus is for the small intestine.) They also received the probiotic up to 6 moths post-partum. The pregnant women in the control group received a placebo the entire time on the same schedule as the study group. All infants were exclusively breast fed for at least 3 months.
Clinical symptoms were monitored until 1 year of age. They found that the probiotic group had a significant reduction in the occurrences of eczema in the first 12 months. At 1 year of age the probiotic group has significantly less incidences of eczema than the control group.
The study stopped at 1 year of age and I hope they publish a followup at 1 year intervals to see if the improvement lasts more than just in the first year. My bet is that there will be less eczema in the children whose mothers took the probiotics while in utero and when breast fed.
You can find many products that have the Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus. I do suggest to all my pregnant patients that they should be on a probiotic, high DHA fish oil, a good multi vitamin/mineral and potentiall vitamin D if their levels are low. So much of a baby’s health begins in utero, so if you are pregnant make wise choices while carrying.
Yours In Health,
Licensed Dietitian / Nutritionist