This week peanuts have been big news. According to a study by the American Thoracic Society, moms who consume fairly large amounts of peanuts during pregnancy increase their child’s likelihood of developing asthma by 50%. (One of many of these stories can be seen here.)
While the report makes little mention of the connection between consuming peanuts during pregnancy and a child developing an allergy to them, I think the possibility should still be considered. There are not yet definitive studies out that conclusively draw this conclusion. However, any parent with a PA child should consider this possibility if they get pregnant again. Why take the chance of having two PA children?
Shortly after Tyler’s diagnosis of PA in 2006, my sister in law, an RN, mentioned this possibility to me. My sister in law has two children allergic to tree nuts. She said that another RN told her there is a possible connection. We both reluctantly admitted that we had eaten what our children were allergic to in rather large amounts while pregnant. (This leads to a whole “Mommy guilt” that is a post for another day.)
The greatest risk, if there is one, appears to be in the last trimester. In fact, when I was pregnant with Tyler, I did eat a large amount of peanuts. During, you guessed it, the last trimester, I discovered my “middle of the night cravings” that so many pregnant women have were quickly satisfied with a piece of peanut butter toast. This was quick and it allowed me to get back to bed quickly. I also felt this was a very healthy snack. Gasp!
Nursing is another consideration. I feel certain this did contribute to the severity of Tyler’s allergy. As you can see in our PA story, his eczema became worse after my eating peanuts. Since the rash also got worse after not eating peanuts, I decided it wasn’t nuts. What I had not considered (but the doctor certainly should have) was multiple food allergies. Turns out, my little man was allergic to milk and eggs, too.
Had I realized there was any possible risk for this life-threatening allergy during my pregnancy or nursing, I never, ever would have eaten them. I avoided caffeine even though my doctor said it was fine in small amounts. I wasn’t taking any chances with my baby. And to think I was eating peanuts!
Needless to say, I steered clear of the peanuts during my second pregnancy. They were not even in the house since we maintained a peanut free home. My second child, Dylan, is 20 months old and, of course, has never come within five feet of a peanut. I do, however, allow him to eat things processed in a facility with them. In a worst case scenario, an EpiPen is available. In addition, his pediatrician has ordered a RAST test that I will take him in for soon, just to be on the safe side. The thought of having two PA children is incomprehensible!
I hope, even if there are not definitive studies out for several years, more pregnant women hear of the possible risk, particularly those with food allergies in their families, like us. Hopefully, moms-to-be don’t smoke or drink due to the possible risks. There should also be a little thought given to nut consumption, as well. Even if they choose to eat them, they understand on some level, there is at least a possible risk.
I would love to hear from other PA moms on this. Did you eat peanuts (or other foods your child is allergic to) during your pregnancy? If so, how much? Please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. I would love to hear!