7.28.08: Should you avoid nuts during pregnancy?
For the majority of pregnant women, nuts are a great meat-free source of protein, and one of the best baby builders around. But new research shows why you may want to limit the amount of nuts and nut products you consume if you have a family history of food allergies. The study, published in the July 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that regular (daily) consumption of nut products during pregnancy raises the odds of having a child with asthma symptoms by nearly 50 percent.
That's a staggering figure. But, study authors say that it's still too early to suggest a complete nut ban during pregnancy.
For those of you who do have food allergies in your family, it is important to be watchful—not just during pregnancy, but also while you're breastfeeding. You may need to limit nuts in your diet, or completely eliminate them. But, don't let your baby's food allergies be a reason to avoid breastfeeding altogether. Our better breast milk article shows you why a baby who has allergies needs his mom'’s immunities even more than other children do. Still, it's important to be aware of what's safe and what's not while you're breastfeeding, and other important food facts.
Whether or not your baby has a nut allergy, you should wait until she's three years old to start feeding her nuts, as they're a common choking hazard for new eaters. And, since food allergies develop as a result of repeated exposures to a food, doctors recommend that you steer clear of highly allergenic foods for the first few years, while your baby's immune system is still developing. For information on the seven most highly allergenic foods (cow'’s milk, eggs, fish and shellfish, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and wheat), check out our article on Babies & Food Allergies. And be sure to follow these tips to help reduce the odds that your baby might develop a food allergy.
Dana Rousmaniere is FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor. Her family is luckily free of food allergies, and happily full of nuts.