NoPeanutsPlease is an independent blog.

All views, opinions and conclusions are solely those of the author and do not imply endorsement or recommendation by any other party.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

To Eat, Or Not To Eat (Peanuts)

When we first learned of our daughter's severe peanut allergy and anaphylaxis, I remember wondering if we caused it. My wife ate peanuts during pregnancy and the theory of the day was that eating peanuts during pregnancy increased the risk that the child would have food allergy.

I was reminded of this when I read an article today about the rising prevalence of food allergy. In the article a parent noted that parents of allergic children "carry a lot of guilt around". She added that as the parent of an allergic child "you look at your sweet little child and wonder what did I do and what didn't I do?"

My wife did not avoid peanuts during either pregnancy, as we still did not know the severity of our daughter's food allergy before our second child was born.

We often wondered if we 'caused' the allergy.

The prevailing wisdom is that peanuts should be avoided if you have a history of allergy in your family. However, recent research in the UK seems to indicate otherwise. "Mothers of 77 per cent of children sensitized to peanuts had avoided peanuts during pregnancy. In this cohort study, maternal consumption of peanuts during pregnancy was not associated with peanut sensitization in the infant."

On the heels of this and related research, the UK government has gone so far as to suggest that expectant mothers who do not eat peanuts during pregnancy may increase the risk that their child will develop food allergies. "Lord May of Oxford said: 'It is quite striking that the increase in peanut allergies is rather in step with the increasing Government advice not to expose tiny children to them.'" The UK government is now formally reviewing its recommendation to avoid peanuts during pregnancy.

As is the case with most other things related to allergy, there is no clear answer to key questions, such as 'What causes food allergy?' or 'Should the major allergens be avoided during pregnancy?'. There is no definitive answer at this point.

The bottom line is that you need to make the decision that you feel most comfortable with, after consultation with your allergist.

No comments: