Women’s Health and Fitness Day is a great time to talk about diet during pregnancy. I’m in the pregnancy boat for the first time and—working for the National Peanut Board—I’m especially interested in nutrition and preventing food allergies in my baby-to-be. While the rate of diagnosis of all food allergies is increasing, it’s comforting to know that nearly 99 percent of Americans do not have a peanut allergy, and 95 percent of children younger than five years old have no food allergies at all.
Old recommendations encouraged women to avoid eating the top eight food allergens during pregnancy. However, the latest guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) say that maternal diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding should not be restricted as a strategy for preventing the development of food allergy. It certainly would be hard for me to continue to eat a healthy diet if I had to exclude milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish and shellfish!
In fact, with 7 grams of protein plus 30 vitamins and nutrients, peanuts provide excellent nutrition during pregnancy.
Once the baby arrives, I plan to continue to eat all of those foods while breastfeeding. That’s because the NIAID guidelines also state that there is no evidence to suggest that restricting a mother’s diet while breastfeeding prevents the development of food allergy.
For more information about maternal diet and infant feeding recommendations for food allergy prevention, visit www.peanutallergyfacts.org. Consult with your doctor about your specific diet.
“Guidelines for the Diagnosis of and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Summary for Patients, Families and Caregivers.” NIAID. www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodAllergy/clinical/Documents/FAguidelinesPatient.pdf Accessed Sept. 15, 2015.