Are you pregnant? Go buy yourself some nutty trail mix or make yourself a PB&J because a new study says that eating nuts during pregnancy won’t raise the risk of a child eventually developing a nut allergy. In fact, a mother’s nut consumption might even reduce her child’s risk.
Looking at data from children of 8,200 mothers, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that about 300 of the children had food allergies and about 140 were allergic to nuts. Comparing what their mothers ate while pregnant with the rate of reported allergy, they determined that mothers who ate peanuts or tree nuts most often (about five times a week or more) actually had the lowest risk of having a child who eventually developed a nut allergy. Women who ate tree nuts or peanuts five times a week or more had a 69% lower rate of children with nut allergies than women who ate tree nuts or peanut less than once a month.
The study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, controlled for family history of nut allergies and other dietary practices. The lead author, Dr. Michael Young, said his research team sees no reason for pregnant women to limit their diets in hopes of reducing allergies in their children. Earlier studies, though, showed that nut consumption during pregnancy had no effect on allergy rates or that it slightly raised the risk. But the Harvard researchers said those studies were based on less reliable data.
I don’t know anybody that has limited (or increased) their nut consumption while pregnant for this reason, but it’s certainly useful information, especially if you have an older child with a nut allergy and are hoping to maybe prevent it in a subsequent child. Not a foolproof method, of course, but an interesting development in terms of helping us understand food allergies, which are becoming more and more common all the time.
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