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Peanuts: The Newest Pregnancy No-No?

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Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: The list of things pregnant women should avoid may be about to get longer. Yes, peanuts may soon make a reappearance on the no-no list. A new study suggests that pregnant women might need to back off eating the nuts if food allergies run in their families.


The study looked at babies aged 3 to 15 months and tested them for sensitivities to eggs, dairy and nuts. The more peanuts a new mom ate during her third trimester, the greater likelihood her baby would develop a sensitivity to one of the above. Since the study looked at kids in 2008, it's too soon to tell if those babies will develop a true allergy or not.

"Our study looked at sensitization, not peanut allergy," researcher Scott H. Sicherer, MD, of New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told WebMD. "It is going to be a few years before we know whether these children really do develop true peanut allergies."

This isn't entirely new information. Researchers have long linked moms eating peanuts during pregnancy to kids having food allergies, but the research has always been weak. For a while, the American Academy of Pediatrics told moms to abstain from peanuts during the third trimester, but they backed off that suggestion in 2008 because the research was so thin.

Despite the recent findings, however, researchers aren't ready to definitively return nuts to the list of dangerous pregnancy food."We simply don't have enough information to tell women they should or should not eat peanuts during pregnancy," said Sicherer.

In fact, some studies have pointed to just the opposite: that early exposure to allergens reduces the rate of allergies in kids. This tidbit of information brings to light a very important point: It's not always clear what we should do to protect our babies before they're born.

As a very pregnant mama, I find all this contradictory news distressing. Obviously I don't want to give my kids food allergies or cause them any other suffering because of my eating habits. But at the same time, I find the endless list of things to avoid overwhelming, frequently impractical and often contradictory. I know I shouldn't drink like a fish or smoke or take out the kitty litter. OK. Those seem like avoidable toxins. But then you start adding on the other ones .... "Fish is good for you, but not too much of the big fish. Avoid raw cheeses and deli meats and undercooked anything." And now nuts, too?

Nuts are tasty, nutritious and filling when you're very hungry and very pregnant. But as a person who grew up in a house with kids and grownups with food allergies, I know what a burden food allergies can be. Allergies are restrictive, exhausting and stressful. The last thing I'd want would be to bestow them on my kids.

Steering clear of peanuts for a few months seems like a reasonable thing to do. Unless, of course, early exposure is the way to go, and I should be doing just the opposite!

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189 comments so far | Post a comment now
Abbey  November 4, 2010, 12:47 PM

Did not know about this! No one in my family or my husband’s has allergies yet we just found out my 10-month-old has egg and peanut allergies. And I definitely ate a lot of peanut butter while pregnant. Makes me sad….

TropicalMom November 4, 2010, 12:51 PM

I have to agree that there are so many contradicitions as to what a pregnant woman can eat and what she should avoid. Now peanuts are on the list? I am pregnant and sometimes all of these Don’ts get overwhelming.

Kristen November 4, 2010, 1:11 PM

Abbey I feel your pain on this one. I have an 8yr old and I was eating at least 3 peanut butter sandwiches a day while pregnant with her. On her first birthday we found out she was allergic, her reaction was pretty bad:( She also has other food sensitivities. It’s rough.

Anon November 6, 2010, 11:05 AM

What a bunch of bullshit!

smilinggreenmom November 7, 2010, 9:55 AM

I would definitely avoid them if there was jsut the slightest chance at all of your child getting allergies. Our little guy has severe food allergies to several things and we carry and Epi for him everywhere we go. He did even have awful eczema related to food intolerances of all kinds too until we gave him his Belly Boost chewable probiotics. He is much better now but like I said, does avoid actual allergens. I have heard probiotics are helpful during pregnancy!

mamaluvedthepeanutbutter November 8, 2010, 12:25 PM

True or not…add this to the guilt list. My 2yr old son has extreme peanut/nut allergies and I ate a PB&J almost everyday of my pregnancy. I will always wonder now if I helped cause the problem. I know it is not my fault but I still have the mommy guilt.

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