Nuts, Pregnancy, and Allergies
We know a lot more now about what is safe and what isn't during pregnancy than we did in decades past. Not all that long ago, smoking and drinking were commonplace activities for pregnant women, causing harm to their children's health. In addition to those potential health hazards, certain foods are also now considered questionable and to be restricted or avoided altogether, such as soft cheeses like Brie, which may contain bacteria that can cause listeriosis, and some types of fish like swordfish, because they may harbor heavy metal contaminants that can harm a developing fetus. Nuts, on the other hand, are not limited by doctors, but many women are nervous about eating them during pregnancy for fear that the exposure will result in a food allergy in their babies. But new research has found that the opposite is actually true--those who consume nuts more frequently during their pregnancies are the least likely to have children with a nut allergy.
The study, which was conducted at he Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, discovered that the who eat peanuts and/or tree nuts most regularly have a significantly lower risk of having a child with an allergy to these nuts than do their peers who eat nuts less often.1 The subjects were more than 8,200 children born to women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study II. Each of the mothers provided information about their eating habits prior to becoming pregnant, during their pregnancies, and after having their babies.
After an analysis of the children's health, approximately 300 of the babies born to these women eventually developed some type of food allergy. Nearly half of that total--140 kids--had an allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. But it was the children of the women who reported consuming peanuts or tree nuts at least five times per week who had the lowest risk of suffering from a nut allergy. While this does not prove cause-and-effect between the two, it does point to evidence of an association that has been identified in other research: that early exposure to a potential allergen might increase tolerance and help prevent the allergy from developing, making exposure one of many natural allergy remedies. A 2013 study at the University of California, San Francisco found that very young children who live with a pet dog are less likely to develop respiratory allergies.2 And a 2008 study at King's College London in the United Kingdom discovered that peanut allergies were 10 times more prevalent among children in the U.K. compared to those of similar ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds in Israel, most likely because the Israeli children are often fed foods with peanuts by the time they are six months old.3
As far as foods go, nuts are among the most likely culprits to cause an allergy--keeping in mind that peanuts are not actually nuts, but legumes. While egg and milk allergies are also common in young children, they are frequently outgrown over time--although not totally and may return quite strongly in old age. Peanut and tree nut allergies are rarely outgrown, however. And, according to a 2010 study at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, New York, nut allergies in children more than tripled between 1997 and 2002.4 Plus, the reactions can be severe. Children may develop hives, coughing, vomiting, and anaphylaxis, in which the airways swell closed and breathing becomes difficult. At that point, it may be life threatening and an injection of epinephrine (AKA adrenaline) must be administered to counteract the body's reaction.
Obviously, those women with nut allergies of their own should avoid eating nuts during pregnancy. But for the rest of us, increasing the consumption of nuts while pregnant may eventually be viewed in the same way as ensuring we get enough folic acid and calcium during pregnancy to help safeguard the health of our babies. It also doesn't hurt that nuts are good not only for developing babies, but for adult bodies as well. A 2013 study that took place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, discovered that those who made nuts a regular part of their diet had a lower risk of dying from cancer or heart disease.5 So feel free to break out the nuts and indulge in a handful every day.
Click the link to read about natural allergy remedies: http://www.jonbarron.org/topic/allergies-asthma
- 1. Reinberg, Steven. "Eating More Nuts During Pregnancy Might Help Prevent Allergies in Kids: Study." WebMD. 23 December 2013. Accessed 30 December 2013. http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20131223/eating-more-nuts-during-pregnancy-might-help-prevent-allergies-in-kids-study
- 2. Fujimura, Kei E.; et al. "House dust exposure mediates gut microbiome Lactobacillus enrichment and airway immune defense against allergens and virus infection." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. December 2013. Accessed 30 December 2013. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/13/1310750111
- 3. Du Toit, George; et al. "Early consumption of peanuts in infancy is associated with a low prevalence of peanut allergy." The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. November 2008. Accessed 30 December 2013. http://jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(08)01698-9/abstract
- 4. Sicherer, Scott H.; et al. "US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy: 11-year follow-up." The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. June 2010. Accessed 30 December 2013. http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(10)00575-0/abstract
- 5. Bao, Ying; et al. "Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality." The New England Journal of Medicine. 21 November 2013. Accessed 30 December 2013. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1307352