Peanuts During Pregnancy Linked to Infant Sensitization

Infants have apparent milk or egg allergy; mothers' consumption linked to indicator of peanut allergy

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Consumption of peanuts during pregnancy is associated with later sensitization to peanuts and possible peanut allergy among infants with apparent egg or milk allergy, according to research published online Oct. 29 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from 503 infants, aged 3 to 15 months, who had likely milk or egg allergy but didn't have a diagnosis of peanut allergy. The researchers regarded a peanut IgE level of 5 kUA/L or higher to be likely indicative of peanut allergy.

The researchers found that 27.8 percent of infants had peanut IgE levels of at least 5 kUA/L. Frequent peanut consumption during pregnancy was associated with peanut IgE levels of 5 kUA/L or higher (odds ratio, 2.9). The frequency of peanut consumption during the third trimester -- but not breast-feeding -- had a significant dose-dependent association with the peanut IgE outcome.

"Recent studies in children have estimated the prevalence of peanut allergy to be over 1 percent and approaching 2 percent, indicating an epidemic. Peanut allergy is usually lifelong and can be fatal. These observations indicate a need for prevention measures. Our study has identified maternal consumption of peanut during pregnancy as a primary modifiable risk factor," the authors conclude.

Several co-authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies and other interests.

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