A new UK study has found that taking two types of supplements may help lower risk of allergies and skin disorders in babies. One of the supplements is almost routinely prescribed to pregnant mothers; fish oil. The other is an unlikely one; probiotics.
The study is said to be one of the largest ever research reports on how pregnant women’s diet impacts children’s allergy and eczema risk. It was done by researchers from Imperial College London and is published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
The researchers analyzed results of more than 400 studies involving around 1.5 million people. The research team found that pregnant women who took fish oil supplements from about 20 months of pregnancy through a few months of breastfeed lowered risk of their child having an egg allergy – one of the most common allergies – by more than 30 percent.
The research also offered some insights about probiotics. As you may know, probiotics are beneficial bacteria (or microorganisms) that help protect us from harmful bacteria. They are crucial for digestive health, immune function, and have even been linked to brain health and mood boosting.
According to the study, pregnant women who take a strain of probiotics known as Lactobacillus rhamnosus may protect help protect their baby from developing eczema. This is a common skin disorder that causes the skinny to become inflamed and itchy. The risk of eczema was reduced by more than 20 percent among children whose mothers took probiotics.
The study supports a previous study that found that probiotics supplements might help cut risk of allergies in children.
The study found that fish oil supplementation decreased peanut allergy by 38 percent. However, only two studies were found to support this.
What about prebiotics? Some risk reduction was noted with prebiotics, but the results were statistically insignificant. Not surprising, given that prebiotics are simply food for probiotics and offer little if any direct health benefits. However, they are still important, as we shall see shortly.
Getting The Best Fish Oil and Probiotics Supplements When Pregnant
For pregnant mothers, it is especially important that one gets the purest and highest quality supplements. A low-quality product would offer you little to no nutritional value at best and may be harmful to you and/or the baby at worst. So how do you find the best products?
It comes down to two things, the active or beneficial ingredients and manufacturing process.
For fish oil, the two most important ingredients to look for are DHA and EPA fatty acids. Fish oil should also be cold-processed to preserve the active ingredients. Ensure that the actual amounts of these two are listed on the label.
Getting a good probiotics supplement can be a little trickier. Being live microorganisms, probiotics they can get weak and even die, therefore offering you no benefit. They need nourishment in form of prebiotics to remain healthy as well as protection from oxygen and degrading elements and factors.
You should also look for certain probiotic strains, as not all strains are created equal. Among those found to be beneficial include Lactobacillus rhamnosus (the mentioned in the research), Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium breve.
You should look for a product that contains more than one strain of probiotics. Three to five may be better as this offers a wider spectrum of the healthy bacteria.
You should also start on the supplements as early as possible in the pregnancy. In fact, you should start on them before getting pregnant if possible, to obtain maximum benefit. Consulting with your doctor is always recommended when starting on a new supplement especially during pregnancy.