CHILD victims of asthma or allergies can reduce their suffering with a diet of fish and "fruity" vegetables, say doctors.
They made their announcement yesterday after a seven-year study into eating habits of expectant mothers and their children.
Their diets, said researchers, had a significant affect on childhood wheezes and allergic reactions.
Children who ate more than 2.12oz of fish and and 1.41oz of "fruity" vegetables a day – such as tomatoes and aubergines – were less likely to suffer from asthma and allergies.
The study, which is published in the latest edition of the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, charted the progress of 232 boys and 228 girls from the womb to the age of six and a half.
Researchers in Spain found nine per cent of the children suffered from some degree of wheezing. This included six per cent who had allergy-related asthma. In addition, 17 per cent reacted to allergens in a skin-prick test.
But those with a diet high in fish and "fruity" vegetables were less prone to suffer, the study found.
The author of the report, Dr Leda Chatzi, of the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Crete, said: "We concluded that the link between symptom-free children and a diet rich in fruity vegetables and fish was statistically significant.
"The biological mechanisms that underlie the protective effect of these foods is not fully understood but we believe that the fruity vegetables and fish reduce the inflammation associated with asthma and allergies."
Professor John Warner, head of the department of paediatrics at Imperial College London, said: "The interesting thing about this study is that it followed a large number of children from the womb and incorporated a wide range of dietary, social and health factors.
"It provides parents with specific advice about the health benefits of including fish and fruity vegetables as part of a balanced diet for both their children and the rest of the family."
Drug experts yesterday warned parents to double-check if children with allergic conditions such as asthma and hay fever were being over-prescribed corticosteroids.
The warning at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester followed research showing many children were being exposed to high doses – with adverse effects.