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Children Who Eat Fish Regularly Are Less Likely to Develop Allergies

Update Date: Apr 11, 2013 04:05 PM EDT

Parents are commonly hesitant to feed their children fish based on the fear that high mercury levels could be harmful to children's development.

However, recent studies suggest healthy fish consumption may actually be beneficial in many ways. Consuming fish may have the ability to prevent heart disease, strengthen our immune systems and even boost brain activity in the elderly.

Swedish researchers are now suggesting that incorporating fish into a child's diet before the age of 12 may help prevent allergic diseases, according to Medical Daily

Researchers from the Environmental Medicine and the Department of Clinical Science and Education in Stockholm, Sweden analyzed data from 3,285 children who were registered in a Swedish cohort study.

Parents of the participating children were surveyed at the children's ages of one, two, four, eight and 12. The surveys assessed any allergic symptoms, lifestyle factors and what the children had been exposed to. At one year old, the questionnaire recorded how much fish the child consumed daily. At eight years old the children were administered Immunoglobulin E (IgE) tests to test for any signs of allergens.

The study showed that 80 percent of children consumed fish regularly (more than twice a month) at one-year-old and that adding fish to a child's diet between the ages of one and 12 reduced the child's risk of allergy symptoms by 74 percent.

Researchers concluded that "regular fish consumption in infancy may reduce risk of allergic disease up to age 12."

While researchers are confident that regular fish consumption reduces the risk of allergic diseases in children they are unsure of specifically what is responsible for the cause.

Although researchers are confident in this conclusion they are unsure what is that specifically causes this effect on allergic diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids present in the fish could play a role as it has been praised by medical experts in the past for supporting immune health and heart function.

While the study shows children who regularly consume fish have a reduced risk of allergic diseases it is still important for parents to consider the dangers of consumers fish with high levels of mercury. The American Pregnancy Association offers a list of fish choices to avoid such as shark, marlin, swordfish, mackerel and Ahi tuna.

This study was published in the American Society for Nutrition's journal The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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