December 26, 2013
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Peanut consumption while pregnant associated with lower allergy risk in offspring

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Children whose mothers ate peanuts or tree nuts during the peripregnancy period are less likely to develop an allergy to them, according to recent study findings published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Michael C. Young, MD, of the department of medicine, division of immunology at Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues evaluated the association between nut consumption during the peri-pregnancy period and the risk of nut allergy in their offspring. Participants were children (n=8,205) whose mothers reported their diet during their peripregnancy period as part of the Nurses’ Health Study II.

Michael C. Young

Overall, 308 cases of food allergy were identified with 140 reported cases of allergies to peanuts or tree nuts.

Children of the 8,059 mothers not allergic to peanuts or tree nuts who consumed them in their peripregnancy period were less likely to have nut allergies (OR=0.31; 95% CI, 0.13-0.75).

“As an observational study, the results show an association between increased maternal consumption of nuts during the peripregnancy period and lowered risk of nut allergy in the offspring, but the data are not sufficient to prove ‘cause and effect,’” Young told Infectious Diseases in Children. “Therefore, dietary recommendations for pregnancy cannot be made based on the results of this study. To prove a causal relationship between pregnancy diet and risk of developing food allergy in the offspring, prospective interventional studies are required.”

In an accompanying editorial, Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, of the department of pediatrics at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, wrote that the study reaffirms that pregnant women should not restrict their diet during pregnancy.

“For now, though, guidelines stand: pregnant women should not eliminate nuts from their diet as peanuts are a good source of protein and also provide folic acid, which could potentially prevent both neural tube defects and nut sensitization,” she wrote. “So, to provide guidance in how to respond to the age-old question ‘To eat or not to eat?’ mothers-to-be should feel free to curb their cravings with a dollop of peanut butter!” — by Amber Cox

For more information:

Frazier AL. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4139.

Gupta R. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4602.

Disclosure: The study was funded in part by Food Allergy Research and Education, New York. Young reports receiving funds from Fair Winds Press for his book.