Nut products, pregnancy, and allergy risk

For pregnant women, researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands identified eating nut products (not nuts) as a potential risk factor for allergy in their children.

First, the details.

  • 4,146 pregnant women answered questions about their diet.
  • Information about fruit, vegetables, fish, egg, milk, and milk products, and nuts, and nut products during pregnancy was collected.
  • Their children were followed until 8 years of age.

And, the results.

  • Data from 2,832 children revealed that daily consumption of nut products — but not nuts — was significantly associated with a higher prevalence of the following.
    • Wheeze
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Steroid use
    • Asthma symptoms
  • On the other hand, daily fruit consumption during pregnancy was associated with an 18% reduction in the prevalence of wheezing in 8-year-olds, although the effect was of borderline significance only.
  • The children’s diets didn’t affect their allergic risk in this study.

The bottom line?
Medpage Today provides perspective. “For example, maternal nutrient status has the potential to impair fetal airway development or to promote neonatal T-helper cell responses to allergens.”

“Moreover, in utero allergen exposure may affect development of the fetal immune system… Thus, maternal intake of allergenic foods during pregnancy might increase fetal risk of sensitization and subsequent development of allergic disease.”

But that doesn’t explain why nut products were a problem and not nuts? Maybe it’s not the nut, but what it’s combined with.

The authors concluded, “This study indicate[s] an increased risk of daily versus rare consumption of nut products during pregnancy on childhood asthma outcomes.” However, “these findings need to be replicated by other studies before dietary advice can be given to pregnant women.”

7/16/08 08:45 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.