Mother’s Diet May Reduce Child’s Allergies

Peanuts and milk consumed during pregnancy reduced asthma and allergy in children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Rates of asthma and allergies in children have been increasing. Could what a mother eats when pregnant set kids up for these conditions after birth?

A team of researchers recently found that milk, wheat and peanuts eaten during pregnancy were associated with decreased rates of asthma and allergy in children.

"Talk to your obstetrician about foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy."

Supinda Bunyavanich, MD, MPH, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York led this research team.

Between 1999 and 2002, 1,277 mother-child pairs were recruited into the study. The pregnant mothers were interviewed and answered questionnaires when 10 weeks pregnant and again at 26 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Child health information was gathered at 6 months of age, 1 year and every year after. Data collected around 8 years of age was called the mid-childhood data.

The pregnant mothers completed diet surveys at the first and second trimester visits.

The researchers scored the amount the women ate, and consumption that was at least 68 percent more than average was called higher consumption.

Analysis of the data found that higher consumption of peanuts by pregnant women in their first trimester was associated with a 47 percent decreased odds of peanut allergic reactions in mid-childhood.

Higher consumption of milk in the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with a 17 percent decrease in chance of mid-childhood asthma.

In the second trimester, higher wheat consumption was associated with a 36 percent decrease in the odds of allergic skin reactions in mid-childhood.

The authors noted that their study was unique in that, “We found no other studies that examined maternal diet before 25 weeks, with most assessing diet for the last month or last trimester of pregnancy only.”

The association between a pregnant mother’s diet and asthma and allergy in her children is still controversial, but Dr. Bunyavanich and team concluded, “Our findings suggest potential benefits to including peanut, milk and wheat in the maternal diet during pregnancy.”

This study was published in the February issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health funded the research.

The researchers disclosed potential conflicts of interest for receiving research support from the National Institutes of Health and Phadia Thermo Fisher. One of the study's authors has received royalties from Springer Humana Press and UpToDate, Inc.

Review Date: 
February 20, 2014
Last Updated:
February 20, 2014