Approximately one percent of our US population is affected by peanut allergies whose symptoms range from mild itching to full blown asthma and life-threatening shock. The good news is that 25 percent of children grow “out of it” by age 7 but that leaves the remaining 75 percent at risk for future complications. Peanut allergies fall into three categories: (1) those who inherited it from family genes; (2) those who obtained it through direct contact and (3) those who obtain it through the environment. When medical studies documented that babies can become sensitized (that is, capable of having an allergic reaction) either late in the third trimester or immediately at birth, the most common response was for the pregnant mom to avoid eating foods that might trigger this reaction. Mothers and fathers with allergies, siblings with a history of asthma were considered a high-risk as was their unborn child or sibling.
According to medical studies, pregnant mothers who avoided eating peanuts reduced the risk of their offspring’s allergies but did not prevent it. In another study, over 14,000 preschool children were studied and it was determined that despite their mothers’ consumption of peanuts, there was no association with peanut allergies. Therefore eating a peanut butter sandwich while pregnant will not harm your baby. At present, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend a peanut-free diet during pregnancy or while breastfeeding to prevent peanut allergies. If you have avoided eating peanuts, are you compromising your unborn baby’s development? Probably not because peanuts are not considered an essential part of the American diet.
At present, the jury is still out regarding treatment methods for preventing peanut allergies but at least it has been established that the consumption of peanut butter by a pregnant woman has no bearing on the cause or effect of her offsprings’ allergies.
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