Can You Eat Peanut Butter While Pregnant?

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Managing your child’s food allergies is a full-time job. And when your child has a life-threatening food allergy, it’s a very stressful job! You have to constantly worry about exposure at school, parks, play dates, and restaurants. It’s not something parents want to deal with, but it’s the reality for so many families. Experts have yet to pinpoint exactly what triggers these food allergies in children. But for a long time, it was believed that eating certain foods during pregnancy could increase your risk of passing them on to your baby. Take peanut butter, for example. Peanut allergies are some of the hardest to deal with, and doctors recommended not eating peanuts or peanut products during pregnancy to minimize the risk. But is that still the case? Can you eat peanut butter while pregnant?

In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned allergy-prone moms to avoid peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy.

The thought was, if you have a food allergy or a family history of food allergies, eating peanuts and tree nuts could increase your risk of passing that to your children. The warning was really meant for women with allergies in their immediate family, such as a parent, sibling, or another child. But, it sort of became blanket advice for all pregnant women. It’s along the same lines as the advice to not give your child peanut butter in their first year of life. Better safe than sorry, right?

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But the AAP rescinded their recommendation in 2008, after research failed to support the data. In fact, in that 8-year period, the incidence of food allergies actually increased! Nee research shows that there is no evidence to support the claim that peanut avoidance during pregnancy influences food allergies in children.

So can you eat peanut butter while pregnant?

Short answer: yes! There’s no reason to believe that eating peanut butter during pregnant will have any affect on whether or not your child develops a peanut allergy. In fact, research shows that mothers who ate peanuts or peanut products five times or more a week were actually LESS likely to have a child with a peanut allergy.

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Experts now believe that introducing allergen foods early in life can actually benefit children. They begin to build a tolerance to them, thereby lowering their risk of allergies. However, if you have a strong family history of allergies, be cautious. Your baby is likely high-risk for developing a food allergy, so talk to your OB/GYN or allergist first.

Can you eat peanut butter during pregnancy? If you don’t have a strong family history of allergies, go nuts! If you do, talk to your doc first to assess the risk.

(Image: iStock / vadimguzhva)