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Eating More Nuts During Pregnancy Might Help Prevent Allergies in Kids: Study

Experts say mothers who consume more nuts won't raise -- and might reduce -- risk in children
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Young said the findings do, however, add to the growing evidence that early introduction of foods increases the development of tolerance and reduces the risk of allergies.

"Our data should reassure pregnant women that they could eat nuts without causing the offspring to be allergic to nuts," he said.

Gupta agreed. "With the recent increase in food allergies, I think mothers are fearful that eating certain foods may cause their child to develop that food allergy," she said. But that isn't backed by any data, she noted.

"Mothers should not be fearful of eating certain foods and should go on with their regular cravings and their regular diets and not avoid things to try to protect their child from allergy," she said.

This study suggests that exposure to nuts early in life might protect kids from developing an allergy to them -- a theory that also has been linked to other foods to which kids are commonly allergic, Gupta said. "The problem is that we do not have enough strong data to recommend this," she said.

The eight foods to which children are most commonly allergic are peanuts, milk, eggs, tree nuts, shellfish, fin fish, wheat and soy, Gupta said. Children often outgrow these allergies, she said.

"The ones that are most commonly outgrown are egg and milk allergies," she said. "Things like nuts and fish and shellfish -- only about 10 percent to 20 percent [of people] outgrow those allergies."

The dramatic increase in food allergies is not just an American phenomenon, but is being seen worldwide, Gupta said. "We are definitely seeing higher rates in Canada, Europe, Japan, China, India -- all over the world," she said.

Gupta said she is hopeful that during the next decade it will be discovered why this increase in food allergies is happening and what can be done about it.

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