There's no question childhood asthma has reached near-epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 9 percent of children (6.5 million children under the age of 18) suffered from asthma as of 2005. Furthermore, between 1980 and 1995, childhood asthma rates doubled.
What can you do to ensure your child doesn't join these statistics? Your most important step may take place during pregnancy, according to an article published in the journal Thorax. Researchers suggest that following the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy may help protect unborn children against developing asthma later in life. A Mediterranean diet is high in fish, olive oil, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, moderate amounts of dairy and eggs, and legumes and nuts. Only small amounts of red meat are included.
The researchers tracked a group of pregnant women and their children for more than six years to determine the influence of prenatal diet on childhood development of asthma symptoms. Women who consumed a "high-quality" Mediterranean diet delivered children who had a much lower rate of wheezing by age 6 than children of mothers who consumed a "low-quality" Mediterranean diet while pregnant.
Of course, the Mediterranean diet has other benefits for mom: It's low in saturated fatty acids and high in monounsaturated fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, fiber and antioxidants. When you add it all up, eating healthy is good for you and for baby!