Going Nuts During Pregnancy to Prevent Allergies in Children?

pregnancy: eat nuts to prevent allergies in children

Going nuts during pregnancy can be a good thing; especially if it may prevent nut allergies in children. A new study shows the more nuts a pregnant woman eats, the less likely it is that her children will end up having severe allergies to a variety of tree nuts or peanuts. Nut allergies can be extremely dangerous to many people, and children are especially at risk.

A study that was recently published by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in JAMA Pediatrics states that at least eight percent of children have food allergies, but over 30 percent of that particular group is also allergic to multiple categories of foods. Emergency medical care is given to about four out of every 10 children due to such severe allergens. Allergies in children have tripled since 1997, with 1.4 percent of children in 2010 that are allergic to peanuts. Typically allergies start during childhood, with nut allergies being a huge problem.

This recent study found that if pregnant women made sure to eat at least 5 or more servings of peanuts and tree nuts per week, she would have a greater chance of giving birth to a child that will not develop the allergies. For most pregnant women who eat a lot of nuts with no existing nut allergy, it also seems that they eat a good variety of fruits and vegetables as well. If parents tend to choose healthy foods wisely, they are also more likely to offer these foods to their kids. Although, according to Dr. Carla Davis, an allergy specialist with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “The study does not actually prove that eating nuts during pregnancy and nursing actually prevents a nut allergy, but it may be due to many other factors such as eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. This includes the introduction of nut eating earlier in life.”

With this new data, it is recommended that pregnant and nursing mothers not worry about previous warnings not to eat nuts because the recent research hypothesis is holding strong by showing that eating tree nuts and peanuts can go a long way in preventing these allergies in children. The Academy of Pediatrics used to say that parents should wait to give nuts and peanuts to children until they are at least three years old, but has been updating this information since 2008 and 2011. They realized that delaying the introduction of eating nuts really did not make any difference in whether a child developed an allergy or not. A past study in 2009 showed that when peanuts were given at an earlier age, the children had a lower risk of developing an allergy than if they ate them when they were older.

Dr. Davis does mention that there are several conflicting reports about whether eating peanuts before, during or after pregnancy would be a major benefit in preventing peanut allergies in children. It seems that the data is not totally clear-cut in how such allergies could be prevented in children as of yet, but scientists continue to conduct further research in order to understand how nut consumption seems to play a key role in the prevention of nut allergies. This new study does give some parents a sigh of relief when seeing that more studies are showing a positive link to raising children who could be allergy free. So in reality, going nuts during pregnancy, if a woman is not allergic to tree nuts or peanuts herself, may have the potential to help prevent such allergies in their children.

By Tina Elliott


CBS News