Reduce Allergies in Your Child During Pregnancy with Your Diet!

Inside passage, Canada

Hello! Our move to the east allowed us a little travel through the beautiful Inside Passage. I miss those mountains terribly. Alas, I’m holding out for the pretty fall of Virginia.

Today we’re chatting allergy prevention in babies.

Within the prenatal series happening around the blog is a focus on nutrition. Some women don’t realize that what you eat during pregnancy can have an effect on your child’s allergies after they are born. How crazy and also very cool is that fact?!

In my last position, I got to work with some of our pediatricians a lot more closely than my previous positions as a nurse midwife. I learned loads from them but specifically, I learned a lot about food allergies from one provider that went on the specialize in pediatric dermatology.

When I started to look into the evidence, there’s actually quite a bit. And more so, how much of this education are women hearing during their pregnancy? If I had to guess, not a lot.

Let’s dive in.

Twenty years ago, the United Kingdom’s medical officer for Toxicity of Chemicals in Food made a poor recommendation. The officer recommended that mothers without a peanut allergy should avoid consumption of peanuts and products containing peanuts to avoid a peanut allergy in their baby. Well, that sounded like a good idea. The problem is that when a mother eats her body makes an immune response to that food, something called immunoglobulins, and these immunoglobulins pass through the placenta and to the baby during pregnancy (Fujimara et al., 2019).

The result of the medical officer’s recommendation to avoid peanuts during pregnancy resulted in the highest prevalence of peanut allergies in 4 to 5 year old children. Avoidance was causing more harm than good (Fujimara et al., 2019).

What evidence is there for a protective effect when pregnant mamas eat certain foods while pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you are a woman with an allergy to peanuts, there is good news as well. The LEAP trial, a randomized controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015, found that introducing peanuts to infants at higher risk for peanut allergy reduces the incidence of peanut allergy (Fujimara et al., 2019)! You can check out the LEAP study here. The study is currently looking at how long children have immune protection after exposure to peanuts and if there are other parent characteristics that could contribute or impact peanut allergy development.

Dietary supplements can also contribute to lower likelihood of asthma in childhood. Two studies (Vitamin D Antenatal Asthma Reduction Trial and the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood) have examined Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and found that children of women who ingested 2,400 to 4,000 international units of Vitamin D daily during pregnancy had a 25% reduced risk of developing asthma or recurrent wheezing from ages 0 to 3 years (Fujimara et al., 2019).

Maternal intake of fish oil supplements or a diet of oily fish has been shown to offer protective effects against asthma and wheezing in children, as well as a reduction in atopic eczema and allergy to eggs.

Another area of great interest is the microbiome – the microbes that make up the intestinal gut in a newborn baby. The route your baby is born into the world may affect their propensity to have an allergy. Babies born via cesarean section have higher incidences of atopic dermatitis, rhinitis, asthma and eosinophilic esophagitis. Babies born vaginally are exposed to microbes in the birth canal and demonstrate more protection than babies born via cesarean section (Fujimara et al., 2019).

As always, when you review evidence you should always ask: “What’s the clinical application?” or “What’s the takeaway?”

Example: Pick up the mixed nuts next time you’re at the grocery store. A serving of nuts is also a great afternoon snack!

If you’re interested in how to introduce peanuts to your baby, this is a great video…

My middle babe has eczema and I had no idea about when to introduce peanuts to him!

What guidance have you received during your pregnancy regarding nutrition? In my experience, there’s very little education about nutrition and the benefits for infants – definitely an area to improve!

See you Friday for the Five!



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1 year ago on the blog…Friday Five (#22)

Links in the post

How to Introduce Peanuts to Your Baby:

LEAP study:


Fujimara, T., Zing Chin Lum, S., Nagata, Y., Kawamoto, S., & Oyoshi, M.K. (2019). Influences of maternal factors over offspring allergies and the application of food allergy. Frontiers in Immunology, 10. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01933

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