Women who eat plenty of nuts during pregnancy might reduce their children’s chances of developing a nut allergy.
Physician A. Lindsay Frazier of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston and colleagues analyzed health data on 8,205 people born from 1990 to 1994, 140 of whom developed a nut allergy.
Children of nonallergic women who had consumed five or more servings of nuts per week during pregnancy were 31 percent as likely to be diagnosed with a nut allergy as those born to nonallergic moms who ate less than one serving a week. Kids born to women who consumed one to four servings of nuts a week during gestation were about half as likely to be allergic to nuts as the offspring of moms who had largely avoided them.
Appearing online December 23 in JAMA Pediatrics, the study looked at both peanuts and tree nuts.
The new work runs counter to previous research. The authors acknowledge that the observed effect could be explained by other factors. The women who ate more nuts tended to pursue a healthier diet in general, which might somehow affect allergy risk, and were more likely to introduce nuts into their children’s diets earlier than women who avoided nuts.
A. L. Frazier et al. 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. Online December 23, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4139.
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