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09 September 2013 09:00
Women who swim during pregnancy may risk increasing the chance of their child developing eczema and asthma later in life
Swimming in pregnancy may increase the risk of children developing asthma in later life, a new study suggests.
Researchers claim chlorine used in swimming pools, as well as in everyday cleaning and cosmetics products, could affect an unborn child's immune system.
This may also leave the child more at risk of suffering other allergies and eczema, they added.
Scientists from the St John's Institute of Dermatology in London and the University of Manchester have been investigating a rise in atopic allergies such as eczema, asthma and hay fever.
This increase has previously been linked to other factors, such as the fact people have lower resistance because they wash more often and also have a lower exposure to vitamin D.
Experts now believe airborne chemicals given off by chlorine, cleaning products and cosmetics may be partly responsible for the rise.
But they stressed they were not offering advice to pregnant women, and said their latest findings did not identify a proven link.
The NHS encourages pregnant women to keep fit and active and recommends swimming as the water helps support the extra weight of the growing baby.
Swimming is also a popular holiday activity and expectant mothers can secure extra peace of mind by taking out
pregnancy travel insurance before leaving the country.
Dr John McFadden from the St John's Institute of Dermatology called for more research to investigate the latest findings.
He said: "We have not proved anything, we are not saying this is the cause, this is a hypothesis but we do know we are using far more chemicals than we did 50 years ago, whether it is in personal care products or processed food and we think this should be looked at and studied more.
"It is conceivable, but not proven, that persistent low-dose exposure to chemicals can have some effect on the immune system."
Conditions such as asthma have become increasingly common over the past 50 years. Parents with children who are affected can rest assured they will be covered if they take out
asthma travel insurance before going on holiday.
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