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Eating Nuts In Pregnancy Lowers Risk of Nut Allergy in Children

Pregnant women who eat more peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy might be less likely to have nut-allergic children, a new study suggests.

The research, published last week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, supports the recent findings among medical professionals that delaying the introduction of nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, eggs and other highly allergenic foods in young children doesn’t prevent the development of food allergies, said Michael C. Young, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and a senior author of the study.

The findings inversely link a pregnant mother’s consumption of peanuts or tree nuts with the onset of nut allergies in her child. The more nuts the mother ate while pregnant, or within a year before or after pregnancy, the lower the risk that the child would go on to develop nut allergies, Dr. Young said. The study doesn’t demonstrate a causal relationship between a pregnant mother’s diet and the onset of nut allergies in her offspring, he said.

The researchers stopped short of advising pregnant women to eat more nuts. Further interventional studies—in which researchers would separate participating pregnant women into groups and prescribe their diets, rather than simply track their consumption—are required before they can make such a recommendation.

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