Eat Smart, Baby Strong: How Mom’s Meals May Ward Off Baby’s Allergies

We all know that eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is important, but did you know that including specific foods could actually prevent allergies in your offspring? That’s right, researchers have discovered that consuming omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy can have long-lasting benefits for your child’s immune system.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Allergy Prevention

Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and can be found in various foods such as walnuts, fish, and flaxseeds. These healthy fats are essential for a multitude of bodily functions, but their potential impact on fetal development has made them stand out as a vital component of a mother’s diet.

A study published in The Journal of Physiology investigated the role of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and how they help prevent allergies in children. PUFAs seem to affect the development of the fetus’s gut, making it more permeable. This permeability allows substances to pass through into the bloodstream, stimulating the production of antibodies in the fetus.

As co-author Gaëlle Boudry of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research explains, this stimulation ultimately leads to the fetus’s immune system developing and maturing faster. This then results in better immune function and reduced likelihood of suffering from allergies in the future.

Other Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids during Pregnancy

Apart from preventing allergies in offspring, omega-3 fatty acids have numerous other benefits during pregnancy. These include:

  1. Brain development: Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are crucial for the development of the baby’s brain and cognitive functions. Having an adequate intake of DHA during pregnancy has been shown to improve the child’s attention span and learning abilities as they grow older.

  2. Improved vision: DHA is also essential for the development of the retina, which plays a role in the child’s overall vision.

  3. Reduced risk of preterm birth: Consuming omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy can help prolong gestation and reduce the risk of delivering a preterm baby.

  4. Reduced risk of maternal depression: Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower the risk of developing postpartum depression, ensuring better mental health for the mother.

Incorporating Omega-3 Fatty Acids into Your Diet

Pregnant or not, it’s crucial to ensure you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet for overall health benefits. Here are some ways to do so:

  1. Fish consumption: Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, is an excellent way to boost your intake. Aim to consume two servings of fatty fish each week. Be cautious with high-mercury fish like shark, swordfish, and king mackerel during pregnancy, as they can be harmful to the developing baby.
  2. Plant-based sources: If you’re a vegetarian or don’t like fish, you can still get your omega-3s from plant-based sources like chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Simply incorporate them into your meals; for example, sprinkle chia seeds on your yogurt or add ground flaxseeds to your smoothie.

  3. Omega-3 fortified foods: Many food products are now fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, such as eggs or yogurt. Opt for these options to help boost your omega-3 intake.

  4. Supplementation: If you’re concerned about not getting enough omega-3 from your diet or are at risk of allergies, consider talking to your healthcare provider about taking a fish oil or algae-based supplement.


A mother’s diet during pregnancy can have a significant impact on her child’s health, even helping prevent allergies in the future. Be sure to consume omega-3 fatty acids to support the development of your baby’s immune system as well as other health benefits, both for your child and yourself. Keep in mind that, as with any dietary changes, talking to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian is always recommended to ensure you’re meeting your specific nutritional needs and maintaining a balanced diet.