Many mothers think that babies less than a year old shouldn’t consume much of anything except milk and commercial baby food, but a new study featured on NBCNews.com says that fish--something that’s often thought to be a common allergen among children-- may actually increase immunity against asthma.
The study, led by Jessica Kiefte-de Jong of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, suggests that parents should try feeding their young children small amounts of fish, but the timing needs to be right.

"Introduction of fish between six and 12 months but not fish consumption afterward is associated with a lower prevalence of wheezing," the research team reported on the scientific journal Pediatrics. "A window of exposure between the age of six and 12 months might exist in which fish might be associated with a reduced risk of asthma."

These conclusions were based on the health and diet information of 7,210 children taken between 2002 and 2006. Kiefte-de Jong discovered that 1,281 children ate fish between zero and six months, 5,498 ate fish between six and twelve months, and 431 avoided fish altogether until after age one.

Researchers checked the children’s data once turned four and found that there is a 36 percent less risk of wheezing forthose who ate fish before reaching their first year as compared to those who did so after. Around 40 to 45 percent of children who consumed fish from ages zero to six months and after they turned one reported incidents of breathing difficulty. This shows that the protective time window only holds from six to twelve months.

Although the study gives another healthy alternative to common baby food products, it’s still best to consult with your child’s pediatrician before introducing fish or other viands to your baby. This way, you’ll be sure that the food that you prepare for your little one is both safe and healthy.

(Photo by jencu via Flickr Creative Commons)

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