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Eczema health centre

Watching what you eat while you're pregnant

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for people who have eczema. It tells you about watching what you eat while you're pregnant, a treatment used for preventing eczema. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

It doesn't seem to work. Being careful about what you eat during pregnancy doesn't seem to help prevent eczema in babies who are at risk of developing it.

What is it?

Many people are allergic to some foods. And many people think that there could be a link between food allergies and eczema flare-ups in some people. Milk, eggs, citrus fruits, chocolate, colourings and peanuts cause the most allergic reactions in young children. [91] [20] Things (including foods) that cause allergies are called allergens.

In some people who have eczema, food allergens seem to trigger symptoms. Some doctors believe that if you think your child is allergic to a food, then taking that food out of the child's diet may help relieve eczema symptoms. [91] This is called 'dietary manipulation'. (See Changing what you or your child eats for more information.)

Some specialists also think that unborn babies should avoid these allergens. This means that the mother avoids suspected allergens in her diet while she's pregnant. [108]

In one of the studies that we found, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers were advised to avoid all milk. In another study, they were advised not to eat any dairy products, milk, eggs, fish, beef, or peanuts. [108]

How can it help?

It probably doesn't help. The research we found showed that avoiding certain foods while you're pregnant won't protect your baby from getting eczema. [108]

How does it work?

Some doctors believe that because some children are allergic to certain foods, those foods can cause eczema. [20] [109]

It's possible for allergens to pass from a mother to her baby while the baby is still in the womb. [108] People used to think that if pregnant women avoided certain foods, they could help protect their babies from getting food allergies and eczema. But there's no good research to show that this can happen.

Can it be harmful?

The research shows that women who controlled their diet and avoided certain foods when they were pregnant had smaller babies than women who ate a normal diet. The babies were 3 percent smaller than the babies of mothers who ate a normal diet. We don't know whether the lower birth weight had any long term effects for the baby. [108]

How good is the research on watching what you eat while you're pregnant?

A big review of the research (called a systematic review) found that controlling what women eat while they're pregnant doesn't protect children from eczema. [108]

Glossary

allergy

If you have an allergy to something (such as pollen or a medicine), your body always overreacts to it. The reaction happens because your immune system (your body's system for fighting infection) is too sensitive to it.

systematic reviews

A systematic review is a thorough look through published research on a particular topic. Only studies that have been carried out to a high standard are included. A systematic review may or may not include a meta-analysis, which is when the results from individual studies are put together.

For more terms related to Eczema

Citations

For references related to Eczema click here.
Last Updated: September 04, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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