Peanut Allergies – Some prevention possible
Peanut allergies have been getting a lot of attention in the past few years, and for good reason! The incidence of childhood peanut allergies has tripled (0.4% in 1997 to 1.4% in 2010). This increased incidence has caused several needed changes to protect nut allergy sufferers such as changes to food labeling and changes in certain environments such as schools, where certain areas of the school may have to be “peanut free”.
Nut allergies can be serious! Reaction among allergy sufferers varies, and may range from digestive issues, itching and swelling of the skin (hives) or around the mouth to very severe reactions including difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis which is a whole body reaction, and can cause suffocation. The reaction can be immediate or delayed several hours. Some people can have reactions to very small amounts of peanut protein. An allergic person does not have to eat peanuts to have an allergic reaction, the can be exposed by cross contamination, or even inhalation of airborne peanut particles.
Recent studies have shown that non-allergic pregnant women who eat peanuts or tree nuts five times per week or more have a much lower incidence of their children having nut allergies. This study supports the idea that early allergen exposure increases the chance of tolerance to the allergen (in this case peanuts and peanut products). This study supports recent rescinding of recommendations for pregnant mothers to avoid peanuts or tree nuts while pregnant or breast feeding.
So current guidelines recommend that pregnant women should not eliminate nuts from their diet (unless they themselves are allergic), as they are a good source of protein and folic acid.
American Medical Association
Tracey is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Plattsburgh, NY. She enjoys cooking healthy recipes for her family, and loves involving her daughter in the process. On her blog, she shares meal prep ideas, healthy recipes, nutrition tips and even gardening tips (to help you eat more whole foods). Check out her social media sites for more great tips.