So long as they don't have nut allergies themselves, pregnant women
shouldn't be afraid that eating nuts might trigger allergies in their
child, according to a large new study.
In fact, when women
ate nuts more than five times a month during pregnancy, their kids had
markedly lower risk of nut allergies compared to kids whose mothers
avoided nuts, researchers found.
"The take-home message is that
the previous concerns or fears of the ingestion of nuts during pregnancy
causing subsequent peanut or nut allergy is really unfounded," Dr.
Michael Young said.
Young is the study's senior author and an attending physician in allergy and immunology at Boston Children's Hospital.
He cautioned that pregnant women shouldn't start eating peanuts and
tree nuts to prevent their children from developing nut allergies,
"Even though our study showed a reduction of risk, I
really have to emphasize that the way our study was done only shows an
association," he told Reuters Health.
He and his colleagues
write in JAMA Pediatrics that between 1997 and 2010 the prevalence of
peanut allergies tripled to 1.4 percent of U.S. children.
the new study, the researchers used data from a national study of female
nurses between the ages of 24 and 44 years old. Starting in 1991, the
women periodically reported what they ate.
The researchers then
combined information on the women's diets from around the time of their
pregnancies with data from another study of their children.
2009 the women completed a questionnaire that asked whether their
children had any food allergies. Of 8,205 children in the study, 308 had
food allergies, including 140 who were allergic to peanuts or tree
Tree nuts include walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamias and Brazil nuts.
Overall, the researchers found that eating nuts while pregnant was not
tied to an increased risk of nut allergies among children. On the
contrary, the more nuts women reported eating during pregnancy, the less
likely their children were to have nut allergies.
percent of children of women who ate less than one serving of nuts per
month during pregnancy developed nut allergies. That compared to about
0.5 percent of children of women who ate five or more servings per week.
In other words, kids whose mothers ate nuts most often had
about a third of the risk compared to kids whose mothers ate nuts least
The exception was children of women who themselves had a
history of nut allergies. In those cases, when women ate nuts five or
more times a week during pregnancy, their children had about two and a
half times the risk of nut allergies compared to the kids of allergic
mothers who avoided nuts during pregnancy.
"Certainly this is
reassurance that eating nuts during pregnancy will not increase your
child's risk of allergy," Dr. Loralei Thornburg said. "In fact, it may
be tied to a decreased risk of nut allergies."
Thornburg was not
involved in the new study but is a high-risk pregnancy expert at the
University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.
there is a strong family history at all or if the mother herself has
any food allergy, then she should go talk to her physician, because
there is not clear data on that," Dr. Ruchi Gupta said.
an associate professor of pediatrics at the Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and an expert on food allergies
In an editorial accompanying the new study, Gupta
wrote that it will take additional studies and research to understand
why a growing number of children are developing food allergies and how
to prevent it.
"What I do like about the study is it adds
evidence that mothers-to-be should eat whatever they wish and not worry
that the consumption of certain foods will result in allergies," she
Saturday, January 20 2018 6:08 PM EST2018-01-20 23:08:09 GMT
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