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PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2008, 12:00am

Spanish diet fights asthma ...

Young children whose mothers follow the antioxidant-rich Mediterranean diet while pregnant may be significantly less likely to suffer from asthma or allergies, say Greek researchers who studied more than 500 Spanish women and their children over six years. The diet typically includes fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish, wholegrain cereals and nuts, AFP reports. Children whose mothers didn't follow the diet were three to four times more likely to develop asthmatic symptoms.

... and stressed mothers encourage it

Canadian researchers say children whose mothers are depressed or stressed are 25 per cent more likely, on average, to develop asthma by the age of seven, based on records of almost 14,000 children. 'We found that [long-term] maternal distress ... is associated with an increased risk of asthma at school age,' says team leader Anita Kozyrskyj of the University of Manitoba.

Women urged to drop acid

The US Centres for Disease Control is urging women to consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid a day to prevent serious birth defects, after surveys found that only 40 per cent take daily supplements. The addition of folic acid to some grain products in the US in the mid-1990s is credited with cutting neural-tube birth defects, which affect the brain and spinal cord, by more than 25 per cent, WebMD reports.