There is uncertain evidence over how maternal diet and early nutritional exposure influence the development of immune-mediated conditions.
To explore, researchers carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of 381 studies into the relationship between diet during pregnancy, lactation and the first year of life, and the later development of allergic or autoimmune disease.
They found that taking a daily probiotic supplement from week 36 of pregnancy and during the first three to six months of breastfeeding was associated with a 22% reduced risk of eczema. Similarly, taking a fish oil capsule from week 20 of pregnancy and during the first three to four months of breastfeeding was associated with a 31% reduction in the risk of egg allergy.
The researchers, reporting in PLoS Medicine (online, 28 February 2018)
, said the findings should help inform future guidelines on use of supplements during pregnancy.