(RxWiki News) Women often have questions about what they should and shouldn't eat when they're expecting. Here may be one answer to those questions.
In a new study, researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that eating foods high in vitamin D during pregnancy could protect children from allergies. Taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy did not have the same effect.
Allergies result when the immune system reacts to external stimulants like dust, mold and pollen. Vitamin D is important for a strong immune system. However, past research on the link between vitamin D and allergies in children had mixed results.
Lead study author Supinda Bunyavanich, MD, MPH, said in a press release, "Expectant mothers have questions about what they should eat during pregnancy, and our study shows that it's important to consider the source of nutrients in a mother's diet." Dr. Bunyavanich is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai.
For this study, Dr. Bunyavanich and team looked at 1,248 US mothers and their children from the first three months of pregnancy until the children were about age 7.
These mothers completed dietary surveys throughout their pregnancies. Researchers also collected blood samples periodically from both mothers and children to test vitamin D levels.
When these women ate more vitamin D-rich foods during pregnancy, their children had 20 percent fewer hay fever symptoms at school age. Taking vitamin D supplements did not produce the same result.
Researchers said this was the first study to look at vitamins D levels in both mothers and children over an extended period of time, and that these findings may influence nutritional counseling in expectant moms.
Foods high in vitamin D include fish, eggs, dairy products, mushrooms and cereals.
This study was published Feb. 11 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The National Institutes of Health funded this research. Conflicts of interest information was not available at the time of publication.