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Study Finds Eating Peanuts During Pregnancy May Lower Allergy Risk

December 25, 2013
ABC News Radio

Women have been advised to stay away from peanut butter while pregnant, with physicians concerned that eating nut products during pregnancy could raise the risk of the mother's children having nut allergies. But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics says avoiding nuts doesn't mean your child will avoid a nut allergy. In fact, the opposite might be true.

"It does seem like there is a part of time in the young child's development where exposure to the food allergen is needed to acquire tolerance and not allergy," Dr. Michael Young, a pediatrician at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital in Boston, tells ABC News, suggesting that early exposure to nuts may be a way to induce tolerance.

Part of the study found the women who ate the most nuts -- more than five times a week -- had a much lower chance of giving birth to a baby who had a nut allergy.

"One take-home message for the study is that if a woman is pregnant, previously she might be concerned that eating peanut butter could cause her baby to become peanut allergic. The data from our study certainly would dispel that concern," says Young.