Eating Fish Might Cut Risk of Eczema for Babies

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

10 thoughts on “Eating Fish Might Cut Risk of Eczema for Babies”

  1. Very interesting. As I have a baby on the way, I will definitely add fish in after 6 months. I wonder if a fish oil supplement taken by mama will help before the baby comes and while breastfeeding would help as well …

  2. According to research published in the British Journal Gut, Probiotics or ‘friendly’ bacteria given to babies during weaning may help alleviate the symptoms of eczema. What is your opinion?

  3. I recently attended a breastfeeding conference (I’m an OB nurse) where the importance of vitamin D in early childhood was addressed. At first I was sort of “blah” since vitamin D is everyone’s hot topic vitamin right now, but the speaker brought possible links between childhood vitamin D deficiency and the development of upper respiratory infections, asthma, and eczema. The research is still being done, however one interesting study she cited in regard to Vit D and respiratory infections/immune function can be found following this link. Just thinking as I read this post that perhaps the correlation between fish and eczema is vitamin D….

  4. Great post, most new moms don’t really think of giving baby fish so early and usually wait until after at least a year or 2 before introducing fish, nice t know that this can help with eczema, as some young kids do develop this.

  5. i always knew fish is having only positive elements, now that you shared this info, i will tell it to my friends that have small children

  6. Great post – we continue to learn about the benefits of fish in the diet. Would not have thought to give fish to a young child but it seems like it would be helpful in many ways.

  7. Thank you for writing this post. My husband was suffering from bad eczema when he was young and we’re planning on having kids this year so this post has really opened up my eyes. I will definitely be introducing fish in my babies diet in the future.

  8. This is interesting, but I wonder how applicable this may be for the general population given that this study conducted in Sweden, which has a very homogeneous population. Fish has had an important role in the history of Sweden for the last 1,000 years. Perhaps fish provides many benefits for Swedes because their genetic makeup has evolved to become more suited to a seafood diet.

  9. My daughter suffered from eczema for years. I nursed for 18 months, introduced solids after 6 months. Made all of my own baby food, When she developed eczema, it was so distressing. Tried elimination diet, creams. Finally after she developed asthma in the fall did a new pediatrician refer her to an allergist. She had a severe DUST MITE allergy! Following the steps to avoid dust mites for her asthma in bedroom(dust mite mattress and pillow covers, frequent washing of all bedding in hot water, removal of rugs and stuffed animals, etc.) ,(she also had other allergies to grasses) an antihistamine and singular along with care to remove dust frequently in rest of house, resulted in healing of the eczema!! This was an answer to prayer! I wondered why my first MD’s never recommended an allergist for her condition. She suffered needlessly with such intense itching for several years?? This same allergy runs in our family and is more common than I realized. Hope this helps someone suffering with this condition! See an allergist for eczema! Of course it is always good to include the good oils in your diet as well.

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