Avoid a Peanut Allergy in Your Baby: Eat Peanuts (A Lot of Them)



Peanut allergies more than tripled between 1997 to 2008 and 25-40 percent of those with peanut allergies also have tree nut allergies. There’s no clear answer as to why there’s been such a drastic increase in food allergies in the developed world. But a new study suggests that mothers who eat nuts during pregnancy can eat them without the fear of causing a peanut allergy in their child. In fact, it might have quite the opposite effect.

Researchers used data from a large perspective study of female nurses. They followed 8,205 mothers who did not have a tree nut or peanut allergy and their children born between 1990 to 1994. Of participants, researchers found 140 peanut or tree nut allergies. After adjusting for age, race, season of birth, smoking and consumption of fruits and vegetables, they found that mothers who consumed nuts at least 5 times per month were 70 percent less likely to have a baby with a peanut allergy compared to those mothers that ate nuts less than once per month. 

Read more about childhood food allergies

“We showed an association between diet and allergy,” said the senior author, Dr. Michael C. Young, an allergist at Boston Children’s Hospital to The New York Times, “but not cause and effect.” 

Still, Dr. Young said, “Previously, women were concerned that eating nuts during pregnancy probably would lead to an allergic baby, but our data dispels that. A woman who is pregnant can eat peanuts without fear that she will have a baby allergic to peanuts.”

According to a study released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. Eight foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish, account for 90 percent of all food allergies and children with food allergies are more than 2-4 times more likely to have other allergies or asthma. 

Read more about the prevalence of allergies

While this research is still in the beginning stages, it makes a similar suggestion as the Hygiene Hypothesis which concluded that organisms found in dirt like bacteria, viruses, and even worms that kids come in contact with are crucial for the healthy development of their immune systems. If kids don’t come in contact with certain foods than they may actually be more likely to be allergic to them. And if kids have food allergies, they’re likely to have other allergies as well.


Image: bark


By Sara Novak| January 22, 2014
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Sara Novak

Sara Novak

Sara Novak specializes in health and food policy writing for Discovery Health. Her work has also been featured on TreeHugger, HowStuffWorks.com, TLC Cooking, and Animal Planet. After graduating from the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, Sara headed up the communication efforts for a national scholarship program in Washington, D.C. Sara has also handled copy writing and public relations for a global environmental consulting firm. She loves fiddling with healthful recipes, traveling, and exploring life atop her yoga mat. Today, Sara lives in Charleston with her husband and two lovable cocker spaniels, Madison and Bella.

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