Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pregnancy Update: Consuming Nuts Does Not Raise Your Child's Allergy Risk

Peanut allergies affect about 2% of the population in the United States and many of our schools are bumping up nut restrictions to help protect the children who are deathly allergic. Parents want to know what they can do to reduce their child's risk of a nut allergy and with the conflicting information out there you can be left in confusion. Women were once told by their doctor to avoid nuts in pregnancy to avoid triggering allergies while others said that avoiding nuts during pregnancy might increase your child's risk of being allergic. So who's right?

New research published in the JAMA Pediatrics found that children whose mothers ate nuts during pregnancy at least five times per month were 69% less likely to have nut allergies than the moms that rarely ate nuts. This study involved more than 8000 children born to female nurses.

According to Dr. Ruchi Gupta of Northwestern University, the results support the advice that women should not restrict their diets in pregnancy unless they are allergic to nuts. Peanuts are a good source of protein and folic acid, which can help prevent certain birth defects. "Mothers-to-be should feel free to curb their cravings with a dollop of peanut butter!", he advises.

Dr. Michael Young, a pediatrician at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston, who led the study reports that even though allergies can be inherited, the maternal component seems to be more relevant than the father's gene's.

So what should you do?

1) Don't avoid foods during pregnancy but instead expose baby to many different flavors and tastes to broaden the palate. This may come in handy when you introduce new solid foods as well :)

2) If the family is not allergic, try some new ways to use peanut butter. Add it on apple slices or slather some in the middle of a celery stick. (Ants on a log, anyone?)