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Can Moms Lower Their Babies' Food Allergy Risk While Pregnant?

June 13, 2022 3 min read

As concerned moms and parents-to-be, there’s a lot of confusion about your role in preventing food allergies during pregnancy. But can you help lower your baby's allergy risk while pregnant? We’re answering some of your most common questions.

Do I need to avoid certain allergenic foods, like peanuts, during pregnancy?

Research has shown that a mother’s diet can have an effect on the development of their baby when it comes to asthma and allergic diseases.

Though past guidance claimed mothers should avoid food allergens in their diet, multiple new studies have shown that a higher intake of food allergens during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of childhood allergy development over time. 

One study even showed that a higher maternal intake of peanuts during the first trimester was associated with a 47% reduced chance of an allergic reaction later in life!

Therefore, it is important that you do not avoid eating common food allergens like eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, certain types of fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, and sesame during pregnancy, as long as you do not already have a pre-existing allergy to one of these foods. In fact, including all of these regularly in your diet can not only help reduce the rate of allergic reaction, but also provide benefits of reduced asthma, atopic dermatitis, and other conditions. 

|| Further Reading: Can You Prevent Food Allergies In Babies During Pregnancy

Should I change my diet during pregnancy?

Current AAP and USDA guidelines encourage moms not to restrict their diet while pregnant or breastfeeding. Eating a diverse diet, including common allergens, is important for a developing baby. 

Studies have shown that children born to mothers with poor diet diversity have an increased likelihood of developing food allergies over time. In fact, one study completed by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) showed that out of the 1,315 pregnant women surveyed, 33% of babies born to mothers with poor diet diversity and who had a history of allergic disease were diagnosed with food allergies by the age of 2. 

Maintaining a varied diet from different food groups - including grains, vegetables and fruits, meat, milk, and beans - is the key to helping your baby get the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.

|| Further Reading: Food Allergies And Breastfeeding: Is There A Link?

Can I prevent food allergies in my baby?

The truth is, there is no sure-fire way to prevent food allergies in babies while pregnant. Affected by both genetic and environmental factors, all babies are at risk of developing a food allergy, especially as they grow. Some of the most common high-risk factors include eczema, poor diet diversity, presence of other food allergies, and a family history. 

While a lot of this may feel out of your control, there is something you can do to help reduce food allergy risk and build a tolerance to these foods.

A number of landmark studies have supported the concept of a critical window of exposure to allergens in early infancy. Two of them –LEAP and EAT – found that an infant’s risk of developing a food allergy dropped significantly when they were introduced to a potentially allergenic food starting at 4-6 months. That’s why food allergen introduction is essential through your little one’s first year of life. 

|| Further Reading: High-Risk Factors Of Developing Infant Food Allergies