Early Dietary Fish Introduction May Decrease Eczema Risk

September 29, 2008

Introducing fish to an infant's diet before 9 months of age reduces risk of eczema, while breast-feeding does not, according to a report published online Sept. 25 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

MONDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Introducing fish to an infant's diet before 9 months of age reduces risk of eczema, while breast-feeding does not, according to a report published online Sept. 25 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Bernt Alm, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Gothenburg in Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues performed a prospective, longitudinal cohort study of Swedish infants born in 2003, examining patterns of food introduction and risk of developing eczema during the first year of life. In the study, 8,176 families were randomly selected to receive questionnaires when the infants were 6 and 12 months of age, and complete data was available for 4,921 infants.

The investigators found that 20.9 percent of the infants received an eczema diagnosis by one year of age (median age at diagnosis 4 months). A history of sibling eczema (odds ratio 1.87) or maternal eczema (OR, 1.4) was a significant predictor of infant eczema in multivariable analysis, the researchers report. Introduction of dietary fish before age 9 months of age (OR, 0.76) and pet birds in the home (OR, 0.35) were protective against eczema, the report indicates.

"In conclusion, we have found that one in five infants in western Sweden have eczema," the authors report. "In a multivariable analysis, we found large effects from heredity and no effect from the duration of breast-feeding or the age at which milk or eggs were introduced, while protective effects from introducing fish before 9 months were found."

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