Eating for Two: How Pre- and Post-partum Diet can Influence Offspring Immunity

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There has been substantial evidence collected in the past showcasing the intricacies of both the mother-child and mother-newborn relationship; more specifically, how the actions of a mother can both directly and indirectly dictate the subsequent health of her offspring. The effects of drugs, such as alcohol and nicotine, have been discussed and investigated at length in respect to a child’s later development. As such, newer research is currently analyzing how a mother’s diet, consisting of various foods and nutrients ingested throughout and following pregnancy, is related to the development of a child’s immune system. Within this article, researchers attempted to eliminate current knowledge gaps about the influence of a mother’s diet during both maternal and infant stages. Specifically, a child’s resulting immune development was analyzed in the hopes of connecting the intake of certain foods to a child’s auto-immune diseases and/or allergies; both of which can decrease a child’s quality of life, to different degrees. Such knowledge can empower physicians to make better dietary recommendations for patients and therefore promote safer births and healthier offspring.

To establish a connection between a mother’s food intake and a child’s subsequent immune complications, data from previous observational and intervention studies was collected. These studies focused on maternal diet and lactation in relation to the development of allergies and auto-immune diseases. In total, data from more than 1.5 million participants was used to analyze the impact of both maternal diet prior to and after birth, as well as variations of the infant’s diet during the first year of life.

As a result, it was found that a mother’s diet, especially prior to labour, can influence their child’s immune status. Specifically, intake of probiotics (live bacteria) during late pregnancy stages can reduce the chance of the child developing eczema, a condition where the body has an over-exaggerated response to allergens, resulting in inflamed and irritated regions of skin. As well, diets that include fish oil supplements during pregnancy have shown decreased rates of children that develop various food-related allergies. Connections made within this paper, relating a mother’s diet to their child’s immune status, are important as to assist doctors and help reduce the likelihood of children being born with severe and limiting allergies and auto-immune disorders.


Summary written by: Mairin Hogan

To read the full article, please click the following link:

Diet during pregnancy and infancy and risk of allergic or autoimmune disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, Despo Ierodiakonou, Katharine Jarrold, Sergio Cunha, Jennifer Chivinge, Zoe Robinson, Natalie Geoghegan, Alisha Ruparelia, Pooja Devani, Marialena Trivella, Jo Leonardi-Bee, Robert J. Boyle

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