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Feeding Infants Fish May Reduce Their Chance of Contracting Asthma: Study

Update Date: Nov 19, 2012 02:24 AM EST

A new study by Dutch researchers suggests that if children are fed fish in the first year of their life, it reduces their chance of contracting asthma in the future. The study was released Friday.

Asthma affects over 40 million people around the world.

"Asthma is a disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing," the U.S. Public Health Med website states.

It is caused by an inflammation in the airways, and during an attack, the muscles surrounding the airways tighten and the lining of the air passages swells, reducing the amount of air intake by the patient.

The new study suggests that adding fish to the diet of an infant who is between six months and one year could reduce their chances of contracting the disease. However, feeding infants fish before they turn six months of age or after they turn a year old could have the opposite effect and have adverse reactions, increasing the chances of them having shortness of breath and wheezing, reports.

However, not all pediatricians agree to the research reports completely, with some being doubtful. They haven't seen or heard of instances where fish consumption reduces the chance of asthma.

"I have never heard that fish is a preventive against asthma," Dr. Antonio Rodriguez, director of pediatric pulmonology at Miami Children's Hospital was quoted as saying by the website.

"There is a danger of an allergic reaction feeding fish to children under 1 year of age," he said. "In addition, there is always concern about the toxicity of mercury in fish."

Infants can have severe food allergy and hence, many doctors do not recommend fish for children under a year old.

While any type of food can create an allergic reaction in infants, most food allergies are known to stem from eggs, wheat, peanuts, milk, soy, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, the report said.

Food allergy symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, swelling and itching of the lips or throat and breathing problems. In case of such symptoms, parents are advised to seek medical help at the earliest.  

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