Peanuts While Pregnant?

By Heather Legg

When I was pregnant with my children, I ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. I didn’t eat meat so I needed protein, so at least two or three times a week, lunch was PB & J. There has been questions over the year, though, if pregnant women should eat peanuts. Though neither of my daughters is allergic to peanuts, one is allergic to tree nuts and they both are prone to skin allergies. Is this related to my peanut consumption?

Evidence is still unsure, but a recent study published in the November issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows some evidence that perhaps some women may want to stay away from peanuts while pregnant. The study suggests that mothers who eat peanuts in the third trimester of pregnancy may pass on an increased sensitivity to their children.

Though the study has not indicative results, it does open the door and shows the need for further research in this area in order to make appropriate recommendations for diet during pregnancy. The babies in the study who showed a strong sensitivity to peanuts through a blood test shared the common trait of their mothers eating peanuts while pregnant.

In an article on webmd.com, Scott H. Sicherer, MD, a researcher in this study, says, “Our study looked at sensitization, not peanut allergy. It is going to be a few years before we know whether these children really do develop true peanut allergies.”

This study is not conclusive enough to say that pregnant women should not consume peanut products, but it is worthy of further investigation. On the other hand, according to this same article, there is some evidence that shows that early peanut exposure can actually lower an at risk child’s risk for peanut allergies. Baltimore pediatrician Elizabeth Matsui, MD explains that some experts now believe the interaction between genetic factors and environmental ones, such as when certain foods are introduced in the diet, determine susceptibility to allergies and other health conditions.

Dietary recommendations seem to be forever in flux. Years ago coffee was bad, now it’s good. Same with red wine and chocolate. However, when it concerns an immediate reaction, it would be nice if evidence was more conclusive. I am glad to see this is being study, and off to a productive start. As a mother, and I doubt I am the only one, I often wonder if things I did during pregnancy, or early months and years, had some direct correlation on their allergies, especially the food one.

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