I don’t think Sockeye salmon is a Gerber Baby Food, but maybe it should be.
A recent study found that feeding fish to babies before they were nine months old might cut their risk of developing eczema (also called atopic dermatitis). The study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, was part of a survey of over 8,000 families in Sweden. Study questionnaires asked about a whole range of medical issues and included information on breast feeding, diet, family history, and tobacco use in parents.
Having a parent or a sibling with eczema was the most important risk factor for children developing eczema in their study. Introducing eggs or dairy, two common food allergens, also did not change the risk of developing eczema.
Parents who reported feeding their children fish before they were 9 months old were 25% less likely to have the child develop eczema as compared to those who did not serve fish.
The study has some interesting implications. Previous studies have shown that delaying solid foods for infants does not seem to impact their chances of getting eczema. The findings in this study found that eggs or cow’s milk did not increase the risk of eczema, which is consistent with previous studies. Certainly some infants will develop food allergies, but this is different from eczema. Avoiding foods has similarly not been shown to be helpful in kids who already have eczema. Although food allergies can cause a rash (called urticaria or hives), they don’t cause or worsen eczema.
Previous studies have shown that breast feeding (up to 4 months of age) does seem to protect children from developing eczema. Based on the results of the current study, perhaps there is value to introducing a variety of foods, including fish, to infants after breast feeding for the first few months to a year.
Unfortunately the fish diet study only followed children up to 1 year of age. Eczema can develop after 1 year of age and it is not known if this would change the recommendations with respect to eating fish.
The cornerstone of eczema prevention in all children is to have good moisturization. This is especially important in the winter months when babies’s skin tends to dry out from cold, dry air and from indoor heating. Be sure that you apply a moisturizer such as Cerave Cream after every bath. This can help prevent eczema and can also treat eczema in infants who already have it.
Photo: Qole Pejorian