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Apples and fish protect against asthma

Women who eat apples and fish while pregnant may lower their child's risk of developing asthma or allergic diseases, research shows.

Experts at the University of Aberdeen asked mothers of 1,212 children to fill out food questionnaires during pregnancy and then record their children's respiratory symptoms and allergies when they reached the age of five years.

Women who ate the most apples while pregnant were less likely to have an asthmatic child than women who ate the least apples.

Eating fish once a week or more during pregnancy was also linked to a lower chance of having a child who developed eczema.

The researchers say that the antioxidant content of apples and the omega-3 fatty acid content of fish may help to protect children against asthma and allergies.

They add that what a woman eats while pregnant might influence a child's respiratory health more than the child's own diet, at least until the age of five years.

Further study is needed before it is known whether this effect declines in older children.

Study author Saskia Willers, from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said: "Other studies have looked at individual nutrients' effect on asthma on pregnancy, but our study looked at specific foods during pregnancy and the subsequent development of childhood asthma and allergies, which is quite new."

She concludes that if the study data is confirmed, "recommendations on dietary modification during pregnancy may help to prevent childhood asthma and allergy."