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Eating Peanuts While Pregnant May Raise Child's Allergy Risks

MONDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Women who eat peanuts during pregnancy may be putting their babies at increased risk for peanut allergy, a new study suggests.

U.S. researchers looked at 503 infants, aged 3 months to 15 months, with suspected egg or milk allergies, or with the skin disorder eczema and positive allergy tests to milk or egg. These factors are associated with increased risk of peanut allergy, but none of the infants in the study had been diagnosed with peanut allergy.

Blood tests revealed that 140 of the infants had strong sensitivity to peanuts. Mothers' consumption of peanuts during pregnancy was a strong predictor of peanut sensitivity in the infants, the researchers reported in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"Researchers in recent years have been uncertain about the role of peanut consumption during pregnancy on the risk of peanut allergy in infants. While our study does not definitively indicate that pregnant women should not eat peanut products during pregnancy, it highlights the need for further research in order to make recommendations about dietary restrictions," study leader Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, a professor of pediatrics at Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said in a journal news release.

Sicherer and his colleagues recommended controlled, interventional studies to further explore their findings.

"Peanut allergy is serious, usually persistent, potentially fatal, and appears to be increasing in prevalence," Sicherer said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about nut and peanut allergy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, news release, Nov. 1, 2010

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