Typically peanut allergies are noted first in childhood, when a boy or girl first eats a peanut or peanut product. A new study states that 1.4% of children in the United States currently have a peanut allergy, and that peanut allergies have tripled in American children between 1997 and 2010.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, suggests pregnant women who eat more nuts and legumes during their pregnancies lower the chance that their children will develop an allergy to them.
"Our study supports the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases tolerance and lowers risk of childhood food allergy," it concluded.
The study, led by Dr. A. Lindsay Frazier, analyzed children born to mothers who had reported details of their diet during, before or after their pregnancy. There were 8,205 children in the study, 308 of whom had food allergies, with 140 cases of peanut/tree nut allergies.
Those whose mothers consumed the highest amount of peanuts or tree nuts -- five times a week or more -- had the lowest risk of developing an allergy to them. This goes along with the theory that exposure to allergens makes a person more tolerant of them.
The study leads to the conclusion that pregnant women should not avoid nuts, unless they are allergic to them; they are a good source of protein and also provide folic acid.