Should you give your baby fish to eat? New research implies the answer is yes! In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, it was found that feeding as little as one portion of fish to babies less than 9 months may cut the risk of eczema by almost 25%. Eczema is a chronic skin condition affecting 10-15% of children and is related to other allergic (atopic) conditions like asthma, hay fever and food allergies. The study was done at the University of Sweden and involved about 5,000 infants.
What type of fish? It didn't matter--however --fatty fish like salmon, add brain building fat (DHA) that babies may not be getting enough of.
What About Allergies?
In the past, the standard recommendation was to delay introducing potentially allergenic foods like dairy, nuts, and fish way past 1 year. However, that advice recently changed. From the summary portion of the latest American Academy of article about this topic:
Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease
in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction,
Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed
Formulas by Frank R. Greer, MD, Scott H. Sicherer, MD, A. Wesley Burks, MD, and the Committee on Nutrition and Section on Allergy and Immunology.
PEDIATRICS Volume 121, Number 1, January 2008
"Although solid foods should not be introduced before
4 to 6 months of age,there is no current convincing
evidence that delaying their introduction beyond this
period has a significant protective effect on the development
of atopic disease regardless of whether infants
are fed cow milk protein formula or human
milk. This includes delaying the introduction of foods
that are considered to be highly allergic, such as fish,
eggs, and foods containing peanut protein."
In a nutshell, the article summarizes that EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING for at least 3-4 months does reduce the incidence of some atopic diseases. Research proves once again that breast milk is the ultimate Super Food!