Children whose mothers ate more peanuts and tree nuts while pregnant are less likely to develop allergies to those foods, according to a study that reverses previous doctor recommendations.
The more nuts women ate during their pregnancies, the less likely their child was to be allergic, according to the study, in today's JAMA Pediatrics.
Parents and doctors have been increasingly concerned over nut allergies in recent years, as the number of allergic kids has grown. The prevalence of a peanut or tree nut allergy more than tripled from 1997 to 2010, when it reached 1.4% of kids. Tree nuts include walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamias and Brazil nuts.
The study included nearly 11,000 mothers and children, who were followed from birth through adolescence.
About one in 13 children today has a food allergy, according to an accompanying editorial by Ruchi Gupta of the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Allergies can be serious: About 40% of allergic children have had a severe or life-threatening reaction.
Yet Gupta writes that women have a right to feel confused, as allergy guidelines have “flip-flopped” …
Bottom line is that most dietary restrictions for pregnant women are unneccessary. There is no reason for an expectant mother to stop eating nuts or having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. However, much more research needs to be done to determine what is causing the increase in food allergies.