DIET / FITNESS

Women Consuming Nuts During Pregnancy Likely To Reduce Allergy Risks Amongst Children

It is quite common for pregnant women to consider the affect of their eating habits on their unborn child, not only while it is still inside the womb, but long after it is born. In most cases, women tend to be extremely cautious about eating foods which are considered to harm the babies in any manner. One food item that women are advised to completely during pregnancy is peanuts or in fact any type of tree-nuts. It is a common belief that consuming peanuts or any other nuts during pregnancy might cause the children to have peanut butter and allergies after they are born. However, a new study has proved that rather than increasing the risk of allergies in children, the consumption of nuts by pregnant women actually reduces any such risks.

Details Of The Study

Based on the observation that most allergies are initiated during childhood, a team of researchers from the Dana Farber Children’s Cancer Center in Boston, MA opted to closely study the link between mothers eating nuts during pregnancy and a child developing allergies.  The group, which was led by Dr. A. Lindsay Frazier analyzed a total of 8025 children born to mothers whose reports about their diet during, before and after pregnancy were taken as a part of the Nurses’ Health Study II.

The researchers learned that out of the 8025 children, 308 were suffering from food allergies while 104 of them suffered from peanut or tree nut allergies. The researchers also observed that children, whose mothers did not have any allergies during pregnancy and who ate large quantities of peanuts and tree nuts were less likely to develop any allergies to the nuts. The same however, did not hold true for children, whose mothers suffered from peanut or tree nut allergy.

Conclusions Based On The Study

The main take-away from the study was that expectant mothers should not restrict their diet simply on the basis of age old beliefs. The researchers concluded that contrary to what was thought earlier, the consumption of peanuts and other nuts by pregnant women, exposed the child to any likely allergens in the womb itself. This in turn helped in enhancing the natural tolerance of the children towards these allergens and thus minimized their risk of developing any allergies by eating the specific foods.

The facts stated in the study published in JAMA paediatrics, were further supported by the n accompanying editorial, wherein Dr. Ruchi Gupta, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine stressed on the need for women to stop restricting their diet during pregnancy. She further stated that including nuts in their diet is essential for pregnant women as they are a good source of protein and also provide folic acid. Both these nutrients can lower the risk of neural tube defects and nut sensitization by a significant margin. However, she also cautions women known to be allergic to nuts, against consuming them during their pregnancy.

A Final Word

With number of children suffering from peanut allergies having almost tripled in the US between the period of 1997 and 2010, this study can prove extremely helpful in bringing down these numbers. While further research is still required to understand the true extent of the findings, it has definitely paved the way for doctors to better understand the reasons for allergies and offer specific preventive recommendations for the same. It will also help in reducing the risk of under nutrition in mothers and any chances of potential harm to the infants due to the women avoiding an important source of protein and energy during a time when they need it the same. Most importantly it will help alleviate the worries of expectant mothers about the consequences of consuming their favourite nuts during pregnancy.

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