Should Pregnant Women Eat Peanuts to Reduce Childhood Allergies?

When food that we eat could potentially kill us, it’s tragic. Such is the case of peanut allergies in U.S. children that has become a great public health concern because of its increasing numbers and severity. According to medical studies, at least 18% of kids are allergic to food and 3 million American children have allergies to peanuts or tree nuts.

Food allergies in infants may present as a severe rash, bloody stool, poor weight gain, swelling or vomiting. These allergies are usually acquired during the 1st or 2d year of life. Allergies to cow’s milk and hen’s eggs are typically outgrown during childhood or adolescence, whereas peanut and tree nut allergies are more likely to continue into adulthood. The danger with peanuts is that it can cause severe breathing problems and a sudden drop in blood pressure which could potentially cause death.

Eating peanuts during pregnancy has always been controversial. Some schools of thought state that pregnant women should avoid eating peanuts to decrease the chance of allergies in their children. Other studies felt that there was no association with peanut allergies and a pregnant women’s diet.

Well now there’s a recent medical study from Denmark that states something completely different. According to the study, pregnant women should actually eat peanuts to reduce the risk of peanut allergies in their unborn.

According to the study, 60,000 pregnant women were evaluated along with their children until age 7 to look at the association between eating peanuts and the development of allergies. The results were surprising. There was a 25% decrease in the number of babies that developed allergies by 18 months and a 30% decrease by age 7. They concluded that pregnant women eating peanuts one or more times a week reduced the risk of the development of childhood peanut allergies.  The researchers were bold enough to state that pregnant women should not avoid eating peanuts.

So, should U.S. pregnant women eat peanuts weekly to avoid future childhood allergies? It’s certainly food for thought.