With potentially life-threatening peanut allergies nearly doubling in the last decade, some pregnant women avoid peanuts at all costs out of fear that they'll put their baby at risk. But breastfed babies are exposed to whatever their mothers eat, as well. Are nursing moms jeopardizing their babies' health by eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich?
"There is no need for a mother to avoid peanuts while breastfeeding unless her baby has a known allergy or sensitivity," says Diana West, lactation consultant and author of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. "Obviously, if the mother already has a known allergy herself, she should be avoiding it already."
In the past, experts were under the impression that children would be less likely to develop peanut allergies if mom avoided peanuts during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and infancy. But new research suggests that avoiding peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding does not help reduce peanut allergies in children. In fact, some research suggests that early exposure to peanuts could decrease the chance of a peanut allergy. If you're still nervous about eating peanuts while nursing, talk to your doctor, and be sure to read labels carefully. "If a baby's sibling or close relative has food allergies, it's important to do your research and talk to your doctor," notes post-partum doula and co-founder of Baby Caravan, Emily Crocker.
If you find that your baby does react negatively every time you eat a certain food -- I.E., crying, fussing, or even wanting to nurse more -- it could be an indication that she has a sensitivity to something you are eating, whether it's peanuts or something else, so a visit to the pediatrician is in order.
Are you wary of peanuts while pregnant or breastfeeding?
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