Babies given fish to eat within the first nine months of their lives are less likely to develop eczema, research reveals. Introducing fish into the diet cut the chance of a baby developing the skin condition by 24 per cent.
Eczema affects one in five babies before they are a year old and its incidence has been rising across the Western world. The researchers from Sweden found that it did not matter whether babies ate lean and white fish or oily types, such as mackerel and fresh tuna, according to the study published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Keeping pet birds in the home also reduced eczema by 65 per cent. Previous studies have suggested contact with feathers can prevent allergies, possibly by exposing infants to toxins. The study included almost 5,000 families who were interviewed after the birth of their child and when their offspring was a year old.
The strongest factor affecting the incidence of eczema was family history. Children with a sibling or mother who suffered from eczema were twice as likely to suffer from the condition themselves. Breastfeeding, the age at which dairy products were introduced into the diet and keeping a furry pet in the house had no effect.