New Data Links Peanut Consumption During Pregnancy to Infants’ Allergies

A from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, has found that consuming peanuts during pregnancy is linked to an increased chance that a baby that is already prone to allergies will go on to develop a peanut allergy.

Researchers studied 503 babies at 5 different locations in the US, who were prone to having milk or egg allergies, or significant eczema. The infants were between 3 and 15 months of age. They were tested for the presence of antibodies in the blood, which would suggest an allergy to peanuts. To consolidate the data, their mothers were questioned about their peanut consumption during pregnancy.

Dr. Scott Sicherer and colleagues found that the larger the quantity of peanuts consumed during pregnancy, the higher the risk was that her child had a positive or strong positive test to peanut allergy.

The highest risk of a positive peanut allergy test was found in non-white, male babies who already had a higher susceptibility to milk and egg allergies. The researchers stress that having a positive test for peanut allergy is not the same as a confirmed peanut allergy, since it does not necessarily prevent the consumption of peanuts.

These findings add information to an area of science that has received quite ambiguous information in the last decade. Ten years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended pregnant or breast-feeding women with a genetic predisposition to allergy to avoid eating peanuts. However, this recommendation was retracted because allergy prevalence continued to rise.