Pregnant? Go Nuts!
Women who are not allergic to peanuts and tree nuts sometimes avoid these foods during pregnancy, believing that it may help prevent nut allergies in their baby. In fact, they were probably just following a doctor’s advice.
Beginning in 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended nut abstinence among pregnant and nursing mothers. The recommendations were motivated by rising rates of peanut allergy among the nation’s children. Experts hoped that avoiding dietary allergens—especially peanuts, which often trigger a potentially dangerous allergy—might reduce the rates of these allergies. But there was never any evidence that avoidance actually works. The academy rescinded its recommendation in 2008.
Now it appears that, while good intentioned, the advice was not only be wrong; it may have been counterproductive. New research shows that the opposite is more likely to be true: Pregnant mothers who ate more peanuts and tree nuts were more likely to have babies that did NOT develop nut allergies than women who avoided nuts.
Conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital, the study appeared recently in the influential journal, JAMA Pediatrics. Doctors point out that it did not prove cause and effect, but there’s a significant association between nut consumption during pregnancy and having a child who is LESS likely to have an allergy to nuts. Given that nuts are linked to better weight and appetite control, while providing plenty of heart-healthy fats and fiber, it makes sense to embrace these foods. It just might help protect your baby from nut allergies, too.
A. Lindsay Frazier, Carlos A. Camargo Jr, Susan Malspeis, Walter C. Willett, Michael C. Young. Prospective Study of Peripregnancy Consumption of Peanuts or Tree Nuts by Mothers and the Risk of Peanut or Tree Nut Allergy in Their Offspring. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013 DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4139