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Eating peanuts, tree nuts during pregnancy may help lower risk of allergies in babies: Study

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If you want to lessen your kids' risks of allergies, you might as well take some preventive measures before they're even born. According to a new study, children of women who regularly ate peanuts or tree nuts during pregnancy were at lower risk for nut allergies compared to other kids.

Dr. A. Lindsay Frazier of the Dana-Farber Children's Cancer Center in Boston, and her colleagues studied the association between expectant mothers eating peanuts or tree nuts and the risk of nut allergies in their children. They found that expectant mothers who eat nuts may help build their child's tolerance to them after birth.

The study involved 8,205 children who were born to mothers who reported their diet during, shortly before, or after their pregnancy. It found that children whose non-allergic mothers eat peanut/tree nut five times a week or more had the lowest risk of peanut/tree nut allergy.

"Our study supports the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases the likelihood of tolerance and thereby lowers the risk of childhood food allergy," Frazier said in a statement.

The researchers also observed that pregnant women who had the highest consumption of peanuts or tree nuts were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and were more apt to have their children try out nut and nut products before they turn one.

The researchers acknowledged that additional studies are still needed to replicate their findings but say their data support the recent decisions to rescind recommendations that all mothers avoid peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy and breast feeding.

Earlier studies indicated that consuming nuts during pregnancy either didn't have any effect or raised the risk of allergies in children, but authors of the latest study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, say those studies were based on less reliable data.

The authors of the study also note that about 1.4 percent of children were allergic to peanuts in 2010 which is three times more than what was recorded in 1997. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology also reports that peanut is the most prevalent allergen among food allergic children.

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