by Marion Nestle
Nov 18 2008

Food allergies: OK to eat peanuts if pregnant?

A new study reports that children of women who ate peanuts during pregnancy had lower rates of peanut allergies than women who were told not to eat peanuts.  This could be good news.  But I’m baffled by food allergies.  Why are rates rising?  Why don’t we know more about them?  Why isn’t there more research?  I’m getting lots of questions about them lately.  Good places to start: The National Library of Medicine explains the research.  Organizations like the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and the Food Allergy Initiative provide basic information.  And for personal experience, Allergic Girl has plenty to say on her blog.

  • Rachel

    My husband–a pediatrician–always pooh-pooh’ed the late date at which American kids eat nuts and pointed to the fact that many Israeli kids get Bamba (a kind of peanut-butter tasting snack that looks like a cheese doodle) as one of their first foods. As a result, we ignored our daughter’s pediatricians and gave her bamba (along with just about every other food, including nuts) pretty early on. No allergies. Related phenomenon? Who knows. Neither he nor I have any allergies, so her odds were lower anyhow. But she really loves her Bamba.

  • tim nelson

    Is the poor old peanut the real culprit or the effect of the aflatoxins peanuts in western countries carry spreading throughout the “peanut food chain”?

  • Alas, it is poor old peanut protein. True food allergies are due to proteins and peanut proteins are demonstrably allergenic. Aflatoxin is carcinogenic but should not be allergenic.