Probiotics and fish oil supplements during pregnancy and breast-feeding may reduce the risk for food allergies and eczema in early childhood, researchers report.

In a review of hundreds of studies, they found that compared with no supplements, probiotics taken after the 36th week of pregnancy and the first months of lactation were associated with a 22 percent reduction in the risk for eczema in children.

They also analyzed six randomized trials with solid evidence that women who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements during pregnancy and lactation reduced the risk for childhood allergic reaction to eggs, the most common food allergy, by 31 percent.

The meta-analysis, in PLOS Medicine, found no evidence that avoiding certain foods or taking vitamins during pregnancy had any effect on childhood eczema or food allergy.

Pig created for human transplants

A team of scientists said it has created a pig that can be used in transplantations in humans. It is the first to be developed for transplantation based on national guidelines for xenotransplantation, in which animal organs and cells are transplanted into humans, the researchers said. The team, which includes researchers from Meiji University and Kyoto Prefectural University, plans to supply the pigs with a private company early next year.

The National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo and other institutions plan to begin clinical studies within three to five years in which pig pancreatic cells will be transplanted to diabetic patients. The cells will be encased to prevent rejection.

DIY blood pressure testing may be best

The most effective way to monitor blood pressure may be to do it yourself. British researchers randomly assigned 1,003 patients with hypertension to one of three groups. The first took their own readings daily for one week every month over the course of a year and mailed them to a doctor; a second used a phone app, and a control group was assigned to “usual care,” with checks at their doctor’s office.

The average systolic reading (the top number) for all patients was about 153 at the start. By the end of 12 months, the control group had lowered their average to 140. But the telemonitoring group and the self-monitoring group had cut theirs to 136 and 137. The authors estimate these lower numbers would lower stroke risk by 20 percent and coronary artery disease risk by 10 percent. The study was published in Lancet.

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