Women who eat peanuts during pregnancy may put their infants at increased risk of allergy, a new study has claimed. Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the US found that eating peanuts during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy among infants.
For their study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the researchers evaluated 503 infants aged three to 15 months, with likely milk or egg allergies or with significant eczema and positive allergy tests to milk or egg — which are factors associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy.
These infants had no previous diagnosis of peanut allergy. But their blood tests showed that a total of 140 infants had strong sensitivity to peanut, and consumption of peanut during pregnancy was a significant predictor of this test result.
"Peanut allergy is serious, usually persistent, potentially fatal, and appears to be increasing in prevalence," said Dr Sicherer, who led the study.
"Our study is an important step toward identifying preventive measures that, if verified, may help reduce the impact of peanut allergy." However, Dr Sicherer said the study has limitations, including the reliance on the self-reporting of dietary habits among pregnant women.
Despite its limitations, the study has identified a potential risk factor that, if verified, could present an opportunity for risk reduction.