Avoid a Peanut Allergy in Your Baby by Eating Peanuts (A Lot of Them)

By Sara Novak
Sara Novak
Sara Novak
September 17, 2018 Updated: September 17, 2018
Peanut allergies more than tripled between 1997 to 2008.
Among those with peanut allergies, 25 to 40 percent 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 can eat nuts during pregnancy without causing a peanut allergy in their child, and, in fact, that might have quite the opposite effect.
Using data from a large perspective study of female nurses, the study followed 8,205 mothers who didn’t have a tree nut or peanut allergy and their children born between 1990 and 1994. Of the 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 five 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.
“We showed an association between diet and allergy,” senior author Dr. Michael C. Young, an allergist at Boston Children’s Hospital, told the The New York Times, “but not cause and effect.”
“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 two to four times more likely to have other allergies or asthma. 

While this research is still in the early stages, it offers a theory that’s similar t0 the Hygiene Hypothesis, which concluded that organisms that kids might encounter in dirt, such as bacteria, viruses, and even worms, are crucial for the healthy development of a child’s immune system.
If kids don’t come in contact with certain foods, 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.
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. This article was originally published on Naturally Savvy.
Sara Novak
Sara Novak