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peanut allergies, allergens, food allergies, and Technology

Pregnant Women Should Eat Peanuts

Posted by Dave on September 20, 2007

Pregnant Women Should Eat Peanuts

Government’s current advice may be ‘irresponsible’

A generation of British mothers who have studiously avoided eating peanuts during pregnancy as well as shying away from feeding them to their children, may have contributed to the current allergy epidemic. That’s the opinion of a House of Lords committee which is due to be published next week.

According to the Telegraph, the committee is expected to advise the government to change its current advice to pregnant women and mothers which currently say that parents with a history of asthma, eczema or hayfever should ‘avoid eating peanuts and peanut products when you’re pregnant and breastfeeding’.

The science and technology committee’s allergy report found that nut allergies were extremely low in countries where children are weaned on peanuts.

‘It is quite striking that the increase in peanut allergies is rather in step with the increasing Government advice not to expose tiny children to them,’ said Lord May of Oxford. ‘In Israel, where peanuts are quite commonly found in baby food, there has been no increase in peanut allergies.’

Since 1999 Britain has been the only European country to advice pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid peanut products. But in the last ten years the number of primary schoolchildren suffering from nut allergies has doubled.

Health minister Ivan Lewis told the House of Lords committee: ‘If the advice is entirely wrong and counterproductive and actually damaging people, then we really need to move rather quickly rather than having ongoing incessant reviews


7 Responses to “Pregnant Women Should Eat Peanuts”

  1. A Martin said

    I just wanted to let you know that I ate peanut butter during my first son’s pregnancy and while nursing him, during which time he developed eczema, as so many later-food-allergic children do. He had a peanut butter Ritz cracker at around 13 months of age, and he reacted with hives near his mouth at first ingestion. Children should not react at first ingestion – it usually takes time for food allergies to build a response from the immune system. I believe my son’s reaction suggests that he was being exposed through my milk already. Studies have shown that food particles cross into the mother’s milk. I believe that nursing children get eczema in response to allergens – and their reactions progress to hives when those foods are introduced as solids. My child has a Class 6 peanut allergy, >100kU / ml.

    Food allergies are on the increase. Children with food allergies are being born to families without a known history of food allergies. Public officials should be cautious about what they advise people to do until this issue is understood better.

    With my youngest son (6 years younger), I noticed eczema developing on his face when he was about four months old. Going with my dermatologist’s advice that his facial eczema was likely a manifestation of food allergy, I determined to rotate and eliminate foods from my diet until I found his trigger food. We had a clue because he had vomited cereals when they were introduced, and we had to stop. I found out that gluten-containing foods in my diet triggered his eczema. His bleeding eczema completely healed when I went on a gluten-free diet. For us, this seemed to confirm that children can have a mild reaction (eczema) through the proteins present in breastmilk – while being sensitized to have a stronger reaction when the same foods are introduced.

    I hope scientists have a breakthrough and discover what is causing food allergies to rise.

  2. Elizabeth said

    This is just a short note to comment that I come from a family of six children of which my mother briefly tried breast feading the first child – but did not breast feed any of the other children. As far as I’m aware she did not eat peanuts or peanut butter but she smoked through her pregnancies. Two of us are asthmatics (one whom she briefly breastfed) and I have eczema but this only developed in my twenties. My mother also had eczema. Therefore I don’t think this problem has a simple solution and must be more complex.

  3. Caroline said

    I ate peanut butter during pregnancy and while breast feeding. The first time my daughter had peanut butter
    she reacted severly. I agree with the other mother about government officials better be very careful what they say. My daughter is also allergic to peas which is related to the peanut. The government needs to look at the true cause of the rise in allergies.

  4. Diane said

    I breast fed my daughter until she was 6 months old (she is now 3 1/2 yrs). I ate peanut butter throughout my pregnancy and while breast feeding… 18 months I gave her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and she had a reaction (hives) around her mouth. She was tested for peanuts and tree nuts and is allergic to all, and her peanut allergy is “life threatening”. We have no allergies in our family. We have seen many doctors regarding my daughter’s allergy and everyone of them have said my nut consumption while pregnant or breast feeding in NO WAY caused her allergy. Also, Thailand is one of the largest peanut eating countries in the world and they have the lowest peanut allergy population in the world. Go figure!!!!!

  5. maddy said

    You ladies are nuts!!!!!

    Eating peanut butter during pregnancy has NOTHING TO DO with the fact that you eate while pregnant!!!!I am pregnant and today I took a nutrition class and is OK to eat penut butter!!Actualy is very good for u and baby…It’s very nutritios!Of course watch portions!!!Don’t take the jar and don’t stop ’till it’s gone and of course just like everything else don’t eat every day,or 2-3 times a day!!!BUT IT’S VERY OK TO EAT PENUT BUTTER!!!!!!This is what my dr told me!!!

  6. Andrea said

    I think the problem is much more complex than whether or not you eat something while pregnant or breastfeeding. I have 4 children. The first three do not have a peanut allergy, and I ate peanut butter all the time. With my second I actually craved it, and had a pbj sandwich almost every single day for lunch. Between kid 3 and kid 4, peanut butter started to bother my stomach, (possibly due to a gall bladder removal), so I stopped eating it. I would have a pbj sandwich maybe once every couple of months. My fourth child has a severe peanut allergy. He breaks out in hives if he even has the smallest amount of skin contact. That is the exact opposite of what should have happened if eating peanut butter while pregnant and breastfeeding is the problem.

    Personally, I think there is something wrong with the peanuts them selves. Either the processing, the fertilizer used, the insecticides, the herbicides, genetic altering of the peanut plant to produce better plants, …..something. I don’t know what it is, but that’s where I’d start looking. Too many people are suddenly becoming allergic. It doesn’t make any sense. No matter what the answer though, I truly hope they figure it out soon.

    • Fleur said

      Thank you for your post. I have 4 children as well and expecting number 5. I’m craving peanut butter a lot for this pregnancy and I’m researching on correlations between prenatal diet and infant allergies. The first 3 children had variable mild allergies (hives/eczema) to dairy, eggs and nuts and eventually outgrew them all by around age 2-3 years. #4, however, has a class 2 peanut & dairy allergies, and class 4 egg, wheat and gluten allergies. He already had an anaphylactic reaction to regular infant formula when I introduced it the first time when he was 6 months old. That’s why he was tested for other allergies. My husband and I don’t have allergies but my side of the family does have a history of eczema and asthma. I’m just hoping that baby #5 won’t have the severe allergies #4 has. One “theory” I do have is emotional stress during pregnancy…we suffered a death in the family during pregnancy #4, a very emotional confrontation with another family member, PLUS caring for 3 children were all factors with my stress (and sadness) level. Thankfully, Baby #4 has a cheerful disposition and there are many hypo-allergenic foods out there now, but comes with steep prices.

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