Eating Nuts While Pregnant Makes You Less Likely To Have A Baby With A Nut Allergy


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.

Photo: Getty Images

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  • pixie

    Hmm, I should ask my mom if she ate nuts while pregnant with me. I’ve mentioned before that I have a tree nut allergy (hazelnuts, almonds, etc, not peanuts). Both my parents eat nuts and do so when I’m away (though they’re very careful and make sure everything is clean before I come back). I find studies like this interesting because of my allergy and there’s always new and sometimes contradicting information being released.

    • Annie

      Well I don’t think they’re saying that it’s a definitive thing, just that it can help.

      But yeah, nut allergies are interesting.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    I did eat a freaking ton of nuts when I was pregnant because I had gestational diabetes, and it was one of few snacks I could eat without doing carb math (and I’m not a fan of math). Neither of my kids is allergic to nuts.

  • Matash

    The problem with the original article that this information came from, is that there is a survivor bias. Since no one yet knows when allergies start forming, the women who ate nuts may also have higher rates of miscarriage due to nut allerergies in utero, which was not included in the study.

  • Guest

    I ate more peanut butter during the pregnancy for my first child than I did at any other time in my life (I craved it as my number one comfort food) yet my first child has a severe life threateneninh peanut and tree nut allergies (anaphylaxis). Sorry buy this study/ finding means little to me. My next two kids I ate no or a very minimal amount of peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy and both kids (so far) are allergy free. Go figure.

    • Guest

      Oops, sorry for my terrible typing skills today!

    • Teleute

      My son’s allergist says that allergies cannot develop until a baby or a person comes in DIRECT contact with an allergen. So no, I wouldn’t put much stock into this study either. My son has a food allergies, but I do too. There is an established link between allergies and autoimmunity, and autoimmune conditions often run in families. I’d say it’s far more likely that there’s a genetic element at play.

  • Teleute

    I ate a lot of nuts while pregnant and lactating. My son has a nut allergy — cashews, pistachios, and hazelnuts.

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  • Cindy

    This is so completely false. I’m so tired of posts that claim to know the answer. So many studies and no true answers. If you aren’t personally dealing with this…don’t write about it.