A few years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics withdrew its earlier recommendation that pregnant women should avoid nuts to lessen the risk that their child might develop nut allergies or asthma. Other medical organizations in the U.K and elsewhere have done the same. Still, many women continued to avoid nuts—just in case.
A new Danish study based on 62,000 Danish mothers may have moms-to-be munching on nuts once a again. After reviewing the mom’s nut consumption while pregnant and their kid’s medical records at 18 months and seven years old, they found no increased risk of nut allergy. Furthermore the children of women who ate peanuts and tree nuts while pregnant were less likely to develop asthma than the kids whose moms avoided tree nuts.
When calculating the risk of children developing asthma and allergies, the researchers examined peanuts and tree nuts separately. With regard to peanuts, they found:
- At the 18 month exam, children of mothers who ate peanuts were less likely to have asthma. About 15% of kids whose moms ate peanuts more than once a week, had asthma compared to more than 17% of kids whose moms never ate peanuts.
- When other asthma risk factors were taken into account, the researchers concluded that kids whose mothers ate peanuts regularly were 21% less likely to develop asthma.
- At seven years old, this same group of kids was 34% less likely to have a diagnosis of asthma than kids whose moms had abstained from peanuts.
- Peanuts appeared to have no effect on whether kids developed nasal allergies.
Among moms who consumed tree nuts, the results were somewhat different:
- Mothers who ate tree nuts more than once a week had 18-month-olds who were 25% less likely to have asthma and wheeze than the moms who avoided the nuts. However, this difference appeared to fade as the kids reached seven years old.
- Children of moms who frequently ate tree nuts were 20% less likely to have allergies whereas peanuts did not seem to provide this benefit.
While the study doesn’t prove that nuts prevent asthma and allergies as other factors may be involved, it does indicate that moms can enjoy nuts without worry. In fact, if there’s no history of food allergy, but there’s an asthma history in your family, you might want to consume peanuts, said Dr. Todd Mahr, section chair of Allergy and Immunology at the American Academy of Pediatrics.
To learn more about the health benefits of nuts, read 5 Top Healthy Nuts to Feast On.