Was Binge Eating Peanut Butter While Pregnant a Good Idea?
A new study yields a surprising conclusion about pregnancy and nut consumption that made me see some ol' nutty habits a little differently
When I first learned that a study of thousands of mothers found those who ate nuts during pregnancy were less likely to have kids with nut allergies, I congratulated myself: I’d eaten a ton of peanut butter during both my pregnancies—not because of any particular health reason but because I was HUNGRY and peanut butter on bread proved an easy and satisfying snack.
As it happens, my 3-year-old now eats plenty of peanut butter too—it’s our go-to breakfast—and I plan to introduce the treat to my 1-year-old this week.
So this means all pregnant women who aren’t allergic should consume tons of peanut butter and then count on having allergy-free children, right?
Not exactly. The study’s lead author, Boston Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Michael Young, told Reuters Health that the “take-home message” from the research is that fears about nut consumption during pregnancy are unfounded. But, he added, pregnant women shouldn’t start eating peanuts and tree nuts just to stop their kids from developing allergies.
“Even though our study showed a reduction of risk, I really have to emphasize that the way our study was done only shows an association,” he said.
Dr. Carla Davis, an allergy specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, told CBS News that the lowered risk of allergies among the kids of nut-eaters might be due to those same women consuming more fruits and vegetables during pregnancy.
“Given several conflicting reports of the role of peanut consumption during pregnancy, it is still not clear if eating nuts before, during or after pregnancy would be beneficial for the child in the prevention of food allergy,” she said.
My fellow BabyZone blogger and mother of two Taylor Hengen Newman can testify to the fact that eating lots of nuts is no guarantee that your child won’t develop frightening allergies.
“I ate tons of peanuts during my first pregnancy, and my big kid is, in fact, deathly allergic to peanuts, and all nuts… and a bunch of other foods,” Taylor told me. “Our allergy journey has been long, and his babyhood was really, really hard—definitely life changing. It took a while for me to feel ready to have another kiddo.”
The latest study, which was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, comes five years after the American Academy of Pediatrics rescinded an earlier recommendation that women avoid peanuts and tree nuts while pregnant or nursing. But as The Guardian reports, some studies have found that a pregnant woman’s increase in nut consumption had either no effect on her baby or posed a possible risk.
Taylor took no chances with her second pregnancy. She followed her allergist’s recommendation to avoid all nuts while pregnant and also while breastfeeding.
So far, so good.
“So far, Otto has none of the signs of food allergies that Kaspar did,” she said. “Knock on wood.”
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