London: Babies who are made to eat fish between the age of six and 12 months may have a lower risk of developing asthma, a new study has found. But eating fish outside of this window may not have the same effect, the Dutch authors of the study said.

Those who ate fish before six months or after their first birthdays did not seem to gain the same protective effect against symptoms such as wheezing, a daily reported.

The results, based on more than 7,000 children in the Netherlands, support one theory that early exposure to certain fatty acids in fish protects against the development of asthma.

Concern over seafood allergies prompts some parents and doctors to delay introducing fish into babies' diets.

However, research has found that a mother's fish consumption during pregnancy, or the baby's consumption of it early on, may lower the risk of asthma.

Using health and diet information from a group of 7,210 children born between 2002 and 2006 in Rotterdam, the researchers led by Jessica Kiefte-de Jong, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, found that 1,281 children ate fish in their first six months of life, 5,498 first ate fish in the next six months, and 431 did not eat fish until after age one.

The researchers then looked at health records for when the children were about four years old, and how many parents reported that their children were wheezing or short of breath.

Between 40 per cent and 45 per cent of parents of children who did not eat fish until after their first birthdays said their children wheezed, compared to 30 per cent of children who first ate fish when they were between six and 12 months old.

That, according to the researchers, works out to about a 36 per cent decreased risk of wheezing for the children who first had fish between the ages of six months and one year.

Children who first had fish before six months of age were at similar risk to those who were introduced to it after their first birthdays. The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.


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