Doctors are changing their advice to parents who worry about the potential for nut allergies in their offspring. Mothers used to be told to avoid nuts during pregnancy. Now, data from the Nurses’ Health Study II shows that women who ate nuts or peanuts during pregnancy were less likely to have babies who developed nut allergies later.
There were 8,205 children in the study, and about 300 of them developed a food allergy during their first few years. Not quite half of those had allergies to tree nuts or peanuts. The women who consumed five or more weekly servings of peanuts or tree nuts during pregnancy had children who appeared more resistant to allergies to nuts. The study controlled for factors such as a family history of allergies.
Another study earlier this year found that babies being weaned from breast milk or formula were less likely to develop food allergies, including nut allergies, if they were fed foods from the family table rather than commercial baby foods. Last year, a Danish study found that pregnant women who ate tree nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts delivered babies who turned out to be 25% less likely to show symptoms of asthma in their first year and a half.