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Babies who consume fish early in life have a lower risk of wheezing

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By David Liu and editing by Stacey Sexton

A study in the Dec. 2011 issue of Acta Paediatrica suggests that eating fish before nine months of age cuts the risk of wheezing, particularly recurrent wheezing and multiple-trigger wheezing, while the wheezing risk was higher among babies who used antibiotics in the first week of life or whose mothers used pre-natal paracetamol.

The study, led by Emma Goksör of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden and colleagues, shows that babies who ate fish before the age of 9 months had a 40 percent reduced risk for recurrent wheezing.  Conversely, using broad-spectrum antibiotics in the first week of life doubled the risk for recurrent wheezing up to 4.5 years of age and almost tripled the risk for multiple-trigger wheezing.

The study was based on data from a cohort of children born in western Sweden. Parents answered questionnaires at 9 months, 12 months and 4.5 years of age.
The fish commonly consumed by babies, according to a press release by the journal, includes white fish (79%), followed by salmon/game fish (17%), flat fish (3%) and herring/mackerel.

The researchers previously reported that fish, which is thought to reduce allergy risks, also helps fight eczema in infancy and allergic rhinitis at pre-school age. Other research has suggested a protective effect against asthma.

A broad-spectrum antibiotic refers to an antibiotic that can kill a wide range of pathogenic bacteria.  Commonly used broad-spectrum antibiotics include amoxicillin, levofloxacin, gatifloxacin and moxifloxacin.

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