Peanut Butter and Pregnancy

Pregnant woman eating peanut butter in kitchen

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Peanut and tree nut allergies are on the rise in young children. It is estimated that about 1.4% of children in North America have an allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. (These ​food allergies are separate but many people have both.) This has left researchers trying to figure out why there is an increase in the number of kids who are diagnosed with this life-threatening allergies.

One suggestion was that perhaps what the mother ate in pregnancy would alter whether or not the child later developed the allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, or both. This lead to mothers being advised to alter their diet in pregnancy to avoid certain allergens, like peanuts or tree nuts. The hope was to prevent some cases of these allergies.

What the Research Says

However, in one large study that was done, they actually had mothers eat peanut butter and followed up long-term with the children to see who developed allergies to what and when they developed. What they found was the opposite of their original hypothesis. Eating peanut butter actually had a very positive effect for the kids in terms of the number of allergies.

Peanut butter in pregnancy, for women who were not allergic to peanuts, actually may help prevent peanut allergies in children. Since peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of protein, this may be a healthy snack for you during pregnancy. Many women also find peanut butter and jelly to be a comfort food. This can be a relief to many PB&J fans.

If you or a family member have food allergies, you may wish to discuss your dietary habits with your allergist. There is ongoing research to always look for new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat these allergies and others. Some families may have special circumstances that would mean that avoidance of peanuts would be a good thing, particularly if mom is allergic to them.

About 20% of children will outgrow their peanut allergy, but you should not allow them to eat peanuts before consulting with your allergist. They actually will perform tests to see if your child falls into this category. About 15% of kids are exposed every year to peanuts because they are so common in our diets. This means it is imperative that you read food labels if you or your child was told to avoid peanuts or other allergens in your diet.

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Article Sources
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