Peanut Butter and Pregnancy

Pregnant woman eating peanut butter in kitchen

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Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy. Peanuts and tree nuts are among the most common food allergies in both children and adults. While these allergies are separate, many people have both.

Researchers are trying to figure out why the number of kids who are diagnosed with these life-threatening food allergies is on the rise.

About 1 in 13 children in the U.S. have a food allergy. Peanut and tree nut allergies are among the most common.

What the Research Says

One earlier suggestion was that the foods a person eats during pregnancy may affect whether or not a baby later develops an allergy. If this theory proved to be true, people might be advised to alter their diet and avoid certain allergens, like peanuts or tree nuts, while they are pregnant.

One large study asked pregnant women to eat peanut butter, then followed up long-term with their children to see if they developed allergies, and if so, what allergies they developed.

The researchers found the opposite of their original hypothesis. When a pregnant woman consumed peanut butter, it appeared to have a positive effect on allergy development in her child.

The findings suggested that for people who are not allergic to peanuts, eating peanuts during pregnancy might help prevent peanut allergies in children.

Peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of protein, fat, and a variety of nutrients, making them a great pregnancy snack. Many people find a classic PB&J to be comfort food and enjoy the sandwich's convenience and ease.

Even though about 20% of children will outgrow their peanut allergy, you should never let them eat peanuts before you have consulted with your allergist.  An allergist can safely test whether your child has outgrown their allergy.

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

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Food Allergies. Updated June 8, 2020.

  2. Fleischer DM, Conover-Walker MK, Matsui EC, Wood RA. The natural history of tree nut allergyJ Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;116(5):1087-1093. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2005.09.002

Additional Reading
  • Frank L, Marian A, Visser M, Weinberg E, Potter PC. Exposure to Peanuts in Utero and in Infancy and the Development of Sensitization to Peanut Allergens in Young Children. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 1999 Feb;10(1):27-32.

  • A. Lindsay Frazier, Carlos A. Camargo Jr, Susan Malspeis, Walter C. Willett, Michael C. Young. Prospective Study of Peripregnancy Consumption of Peanuts or Tree Nuts by Mothers and the Risk of Peanut or Tree Nut Allergy in Their Offspring. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013 DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4139
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas. Pediatrics, volume 121, number 1, January 2008, pages 183-191.
  • Lack, G., at al. Factors Associated with the Development of Peanut Allergy in Childhood. New England Journal of Medicine, volume 348, number 11, March 2003, pages 977-985.