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Eating Peanuts While Pregnant: Bad Idea?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Although I love my children more than anything and wouldn’t trade them for the world, I can’t say that being pregnant was a particularly enjoyable experience. I wasn’t one of those women who felt great and full of energy once they got through the morning sickness of the first trimester. I was always jealous of them, because I was the one who felt like I was going to get sick, all day, every day. And that lasted for the majorities of my pregnancies.

Eating was a struggle for me. All of the foods I love while not pregnant seem repulsive for those 9 months. All foods, except for one: peanut butter. I love peanut butter, pregnant or not. When I got pregnant, one of the first questions I asked my Ob/Gyn was "Can I still eat peanut butter?" His response was "Yes, since you don’t have a history of food allergies in your family, I think it’s fine." Thank goodness, because I’m not sure what I would have eaten for those 9 months without it. But his answer might be considered controversial. Some doctors say pregnant women shouldn’t eat peanut butter, and others say it’s fine. A new study shows that pregnant moms who eat it might increase their baby’s risk of developing a peanut allergy.

The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, tracked 503 infants (ages 3 months to 15 months) who were already likely to have a milk or egg allergy. If a child is allergic to dairy or eggs, they have an increased risk of developing a peanut allergy. "Researchers did blood tests on the babies, finding that 140 of them had a significant sensitivity to peanuts. Those whose mothers ate peanuts during pregnancy were more likely to have the allergy than the infants whose mothers didn't."

The researchers acknowledge that further studies are needed, especially since there is controversy over food allergies. Some experts say avoidance is the best way to prevent them, while others say exposure is the best course of action. Peanut allergies can be especially difficult to manage, since peanuts and peanut oil are in so many foods.

Did you avoid eating peanuts while pregnant? Do you or someone you know have a peanut allergy? What has that been like to manage?

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I can't understand why its SO prevalent nowadays. Nobody had peanut allergies when I was growing up. Report
I ate peanut butter daily when I was pregnant with my son, and also during the 14 months that he breastfed. I remember meeting this in-home nurse who was helping to take care of my grandmother after a hospitalization, and she was MORTIFIED that I would do that! However, my son doesn't have a single food allergy, so I'm feeling pretty good about my decision... AND peanut butter is one of his favorite foods! Report
I lived on peanut butter for all three of my pregnancies, and my two youngest kids have milk allergies. So far my girls have no reaction to peanuts, and based on the amount of PB in my diet, my son should be fine too. Weird to read there is a connection between milk and peanut allergies... Report
I ate peanut butter with all three children and none of them have peanut allergies, although my oldest is allergic to cats and the outside (this runs in my family-) Report
My pregnancies were in the mid 70's when nothing was considered not eaten. My children did not have allergies or issues with milk or peanuts. No I've not had to manage someone who has peanut allergies. Report
I have to say, this was a new one on me. I had never heard of any correlation between peanut-eating pregnant women and peanut allergies in their offspring before reading this blog. To me, peanut allergies themselves are a recent phenomenon - not something I heard of or knew of anyone having until recently (past ten-fifteen years). Scientists will have to work on this one as genetics MUST have some causal relation to this problem in some people. And some people develop allergies at different times in their lives - environment and genetics?

Personally, I didn't avoid anything except alcohol while pregnant and we were blessed with a healthy child. Report
Great topic. Also loved reading the comments here for insight. I am TTC, never knew there were discussions on whether or not to avoid peanuts during pregnancy! Report
My husband's 10 year old cousin who started developing an allergy to peanuts and other foods. He is also very underweight for his age and always has been. His parents took him to a holistic doctor that said he had birth trauma. After six treatments (similar to chiropractic), he started gaining weight and has no allergies now. The doctor focused a lot of questions regarding length of birth, forceps, breech, etc. It is amazing how well he has done. Report
I ate peanut butter while pregnant and both my children are healthy and enjoy it as well. I do not personally know anyone who is allergic to it. Report
I was not an avid peanut butter eater while pregnant, but I did eat dry roasted peanuts a few times. My daughter does have a peanut allergy; it was discovered when she was 2, after snacktime at her daycare center, when 'ants on a log' were served. We have her blood tested every couple years, and her numbers are on the decline, tho she still does test positive for peanuts. We have been told that this is one allergy that does not disappear with age, but there are some instances where it does. We are hoping to be in that small minority. Report
I ate more peanut butter than I usually do when I was pregnant & nursing (for 5 months), as well as other high protein foods like eggs, and my son has tons of food allergies. My DH and I don't have any food allergies and no one in our family does except for 1 niece, so we certainly didn't expect a child with allergies. I've always wondered whether what I ate had an affect on DS -- docs never said to curb these foods -- the only discussions were to avoid sushi, certain cheeses, cold cuts, etc. Wish I could go back in time & change my diet! First we learned DS was highly allergic to eggs when he was 1 year old & face turned bright red, swelled up and broke out in hives while eating scrambled eggs. Then m-i-l gave peanut-flavored snack to him when he was about 2 and he promptly vomited. We have a list of things he's tested allergic to or has had a clear allergic reaction to after eating, but it seems like there can always be surprise and he eats something that shouldn't be a problem and gets sick from it. Luckily he's recovered after taking Benedryl & we haven't had to use his epi-pen yet, and now he's 14. So... I don't see the harm in recommending to pregnant women to avoid peanuts while pregnant & nursing. If there's the chance it could avoid a lifelong health issue, why not? Report
I never heard of such a thing as avoiding peanut butter while pregnant. I happen to love peanut butter and I know I did not avoid it while pregnant. My son is just fine. Report
I was never a huge peanut fan, but when I was pregnant I swear, there was nothing better! I ate TONS of them...and I loooved Baby Ruth candy bars (gross!) and well, my son is allergy free now at 6 years old. The only allergy I have is to bees. It is hard to say what determines allergies in people. I certainly don't know! Report
I craved peanut butter and ate it non-stop throughout my pregnancy. I've always wondered if it was my fault my daughter is highly allergic to peanuts. Report
When a co-worker of mine got pregnant, I was shocked at the list her doctor gave her of what she could and couldn't eat. I felt bad that she couldn't have any cold medicine when she caught cold. I think peanuts may have been on the list. At the time, tuna is what surprized me. You'd think eating fish would be good for a pregnant woman. No, depending on the fish, too much mercury.

I have known people with peanut allergies and they seem to get by. they do have to be careful what they eat.

My opinion on allergies is this: I'll let my kids get dirty and not constantly try to de-germify them with a battery of hand sanitizers. I figure if they are exposed to normal germs then they won't need to find something for their body to fight against. Some people are genuinely allergic to things, other people are just freaks and don't ever want to get sick and that causes the body to fight itself. Quit being so paranoid!!! Report
Most allergies are a result of a lack of exposure to pathogens. Peanut butter tends to be pasteurized, and killed of all bacteria, like many prepackaged foods. Maybe the peanut butter is correlation but not causation? Report
I had five children and ate lots of peanut butter, ate eggs and drank plenty of milk and none of them have allergies. I nursed them and didn't give them any solid food until they were six months old, so that is much more important. People give kids bottles and start them in commercial baby food before the baby can even swallow. I'd say that is much more of a concern. Report
I ate peanuts and peanut butter throughout both of my pregnancies- kids don't have any nut allergies. Report
well lovely. i guess i can be included in these stats. i ate quite a bit of peanuts (i have no allergies to it) during my second pregnancy and yeah, he's a peanut kid too. its really a shame :( the allergist said he will never outgrow it either. Report
i ate peanut butter my whole pregnancy too! couldn't have lived with out it.. As i was reading this article it sounded like i wrote it.. llol my son does not have a peanut allergy as yet and I pray he doesn't get one he loves peanut butter too! Report
I have two kids and ate peanut butter, some, during pregnancy. My thing was to eat variety and well balanced. Too much of anything can make for an allergy. Report
I had 4 boys & ate peanut butter during all 4 pregnancies. They were (and still are) fine, with no allergies! Report
I'm not a big peanut butter person, but things are changing so much. I think woman have enough burden trying to have healthy babies while still having some sort of comfort with the swollen legs, huge tummys, big boobies/sore boobies, nausea and everything else! Let them eat a little peanut butter for goodness sake! LOL Report
Does this affect any other nut butters? Because if I get pregnant I could just as easily switch to almond butter. But doing without a nut butter entirely would be sad for me! Report
ate it with both kids....and not a single allergy to food - just amoxicillin.....don't think I took any of that though..... Report
The only food I kept down was grilled cheese sandwiches. Unfortunately I think all that cholesterol contributed to the acute gallstones I developed . I had to have my gall bladder removed 6 months after I delivered! Report
I didn't avoid peanut butter, although never ate it much anyway during all 7 pregnancies. Interestingly though, one son so far has developed ulcerative colitis. When pregnant with him I did not drink any dairy, only soy. The cause of colitis is unknown. Report
i bunk this too. I tried reading baby books and it seems like everything on this planet has a study saying that it could cause some horrible defect. Do what you feel is right. Everyone wants to do everything they can think of to keep their children safe - but excess of anything, even protection has negative consequences. moderation and common sense people. Peanut butter is a food that has been around forever...peanut allergies notso much. Report
I am not a peanut butter lover and usually won't eat it, but when I was pregnant all I craved was peanut butter. I do have a whey (dairy) allergy (as well as an allergy to advocados). The kids are both sensitive to whey like me but they have no problems with peanuts or peanut butter. Report
The Asthma and Allergy research center in the UK came to the same conclusions in the mid 90's. Despite peanut avoidance among pregnant women, the numbers of children with peanut allergy continued to rise.

1998 Study:

Other studies in Australia 2009 found that peanut avoidance is counterproductive.

I lived with anaphylaxis (severe allergy) for 35 years until I overcame it in 2006. I found that the cause of peanut allergy was not because peanuts were ingested when pregnant and/or eaten during infancy. There are a lot of other factors involved of which researchers neglect or miss. Unfortunately they are only looking at the allergy from one perspective. That is probably the reason why it took someone living with it to reverse it.

I have just launched my website .
It is early days so I encourage you to bookmark as to keep updated of when details about my path to overcoming my allergies are added.

In Perfect Health
Michelle Flanagan
Ex-Anaphylactic & Founder of Reaction HQ
I ate PB almost every day when I was pregnant as part of my breakfast. I had a lot of questions of my pediatrician about food allergies and ultimately, the answer is that no one really knows when it is best to introduce foods. Report
This makes no sense to me. Peanut butter isn't new, but I didn't know anybody with nut allergies until about a decade ago and now they seem quite common in kids. I seriously doubt that moms eating it during pregnancy is causing this - its much more likely that allergies increase because there's such a push to make our world antiseptic. Its true of many other illnesses (check out the history of polio), after all! Report
I didn't even know about this through my pregnancies. Interesting. I know theres been more talk tately about what you eat and how you exercise can effect the baby up to 6months prior to conception. I know dr. price did work on this too. it could have some merit to it. who knows. Report
I don't know whether or not I ate peanuts while pregnant. It just wasn't an issue. When Daughter was a baby I read that peanuts were a choking hazard so I didn't give them to her. But it wasn't until she was about 3 that I even knew you could be allergic to peanuts. Report
When I was pregnant and had my two children, I don't think we'd even heard of peanut allergies. I know I did eat peanut butter. Honestly, we just never gave it a thought. My two babies were born, healthy, so no problems. I certainly would not drink, or even take meds. Even when I had a headache, I just lived through it. Maybe I was too paranoid, about the medication. Report
I felt great during my pregnancy without any morning sickness at all. The only time I got sick was when I had a Peanut Buster Parfait. Then I was VERY sick and have not been able to eat peanuts since then (they cause hives and a severe headache) but my son seems to be fine with eating peanut butter so I don't know what any of that proves. It would be interesting to have more research. Report
This is an interesting study and yes, more work needs to be done. The frequency and severity of peanut allergies increased dramatically for a long time; I think it has somewhat leveled off. So I'm not surprised that studies are being continued to help pinpoint a cause, if there is one.
While pregnant women do need to take precautions, I tend to agree with EMAVERICK. Report
Well, I don't eat peanut butter because it is fattening, and not a staple of my life, but I'm not going to tell everyone else carrying extra pounds to lay off the peanut butter. Even if it is fattening, it is an incredibly small particle of the whole picture.

People like to tell pregnant women what to do. I knew a lady who found it easier to not eat tropical fruit (bananas, for example) while she was pregnant, because her MIL believed it would be bad for her future grandchild. Someday somebody will do a study that says women who are happier and more confident through their pregnancies have healthier babies, and the focus of effort around an expenctant mother will shift to helping her be all that she can be, rather than trying to worry the baby out of her. Report
I agree with Rebecanola: pregnant women have enough to worry about! I had absolutely no morning sickness or otherwise during my 3 pregnancies. I ate healthy foods but indulged in Chinese or Italian calorie-loaded meals after my monthly weigh ins! My children are grown and very healthy--the only allergies are dust, mold, and tree pollen! Report
I ate peanuts during all three of my pregnacies, and neither I nor any of my children have any type of allergy. I think this bunk! These babies tested already had the disposition for other allergies, and the source of those is what needs to be investigated. Report
I don't know if I quite buy this, because I've heard so much about how avoiding these foods causes more intolerances. Plus, my mom's cravings had the opposite effect on my sister and me. When my mom was pregnant with my sister, she craved tofu constantly; when Lillie was a kid, a slice of raw tofu was a TREAT to her!! When Mom was carrying me, she wanted chocolate; guess who demands her daily chocolate? Sure, that anecdote isn't a scientific study, but I think it's enough to show that exposure to foods doesn't mean you'll cause an allergy or intolerance. Report
Fortunately no one in our house has food allergies. I did crave hamburgers for my two boys and Mexican food with my daughter. I now have two vegans and a picky eater. Report
I was not surprised at all to see the results of this study. When pregnant with my first son, I was so sick throughout the pregnancy I wondered who named it "morning" sickness -- it was "all day" for me. I couldn't walk through the meat aisle at the grocery store, let alone cook it or eat it. Lucky for me (I thought), I could eat peanut butter toast and keep that down, so that became my main protein source. Turns out Matthew has a severe peanut allergy. I have said all along that I did this to him, only to be reassured by doctors "don't worry, that has nothing to do with it." But in the back of my mind, I knew there had to be a link! Report
My mom told me that she craved - and ate tons of - peanut butter while pregnant with me, and she believes that the protein was really good for me. I wonder if this issue might have more to do with either 1) a combination of a parent with food allergies who might be eating or 2) all the non organic stuff we have started to use seeping into the actual food (i.e. the pesticides we spray on our plants). Report
Because I have fairly severe allergies (none food related!), I was encouraged to go on an allergen reducing diet while I was PG, to reduce the chance my child would develop food allergies. Guess what? It didn't work. She has allergies neither of her parents have, and, some of them, to things I barely touched while I was pregnant. She may grow out of them, but it's scary when you discover your child has a food allergy. Report
I had a peanut butter sandwich with a glass of milk every night during my first pregnancy and it didn't hurt my son any. *smile* Report
No I love pb and had no problem with eating it while pregnant. I have only one allergy and that is Strawberries Report
boy i am happy that when i had my children other then achol was the only thing that they said no to. peanuts are a big food for me also . Report
I had a peanut butter craving when I was pregnant with my first child. I ate it every day for a period of more than a month--don't really remember specifically. And she ended up with a peanut allergy from the 1st time she had some, around 12 months. All the other moms I talked to whose kids had a peanut allergy, had eaten peanut butter of some sort quite a bit when they were pregnant. So it was clear to me that it's best to be avoided or just not to eat it every day! Child number 2, no peanut allergy. Luckily my daughter outgrew the peanut allergy--it's the only one you can outgrow. Report
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