Can Mom’s Diet Prevent Allergies in Babies During Pregnancy?

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Can Mom’s Diet Prevent Allergies in Babies During Pregnancy?

May 11, 2016

Written by: Daisy Grace

If you’ve ever run out of a party in a fit of sneezing because the host had a cat, stayed inside on a nice spring day because it seemed like nature was against you and going out only resulted in puffy eyes and a runny nose, or have avoided eating out because hidden ingredients that came in contact with nuts or dairy endanger your life, you know what it’s like to suffer from allergies. Basically, it’s the worst.

Even if you don’t have allergies, as a mom-to-be, you want to do everything you can to save your baby from that sorry state. Although genetics play a role, what you eat while you’re pregnant and what you feed your baby afterward may have a lot to do with whether or not you’re your baby develops allergies.

You may have already known a healthy diet plan was important, but which one should you follow? There seems to be so much contradictory information out there on the web today, it can leave your head spinning. Don’t worry; you aren’t the only one confused.

Allergy prevention myths

Some family & parenting advice means well, but strays away from the scientific evidence. Let’s tackle some common myths and misconceptions to sort out what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to eating for allergies.

Myth: Don’t eat allergenic foods while you’re pregnant to prevent allergies

For the longest time, many people thought avoiding these common allergenic foods during pregnancy could prevent allergies:

  • Dairy
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Allergies are complicated and result from a lot of factors, some of which aren’t well understood. Unfortunately, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) tells parents that avoiding these foods won’t prevent allergies in infants.

Myth: Feeding your baby allergenic foods will increase the risk of allergies

Another common and related myth told families they shouldn’t feed their newborns these allergenic foods until they were older, either. Bad advice. According to the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology (ASCI), evidence shows babies should eat those foods early on because they might even help prevent allergies from developing.

mom's diet

What you can do during your pregnancy to help prevent allergies

Although everyone wants to find the secret that will end allergies, so far there’s no secret superfood that will prevent allergies, nor is there an evil one that has been shown to cause them. The best thing you can do for your baby is to follow the advice of the allergy experts.

  • Babies should start eating solid food when they’re about 4 to 6 months old says the AAAAI. During that time, parents should gradually feed their children solid foods that aren’t considered allergenic, like fruits and vegetables.
  • Once you know your baby can handle the basics, you should start including allergenic foods as well (dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, etc.) during that same 4 to 6-month timeframe.
  • Breastfeeding in combination with feeding your baby solid foods might help prevent allergies, but the evidence isn’t clear, according to the AIFA. If you use a formula for your baby (whether milk, soy, or hypoallergenic), although you probably won’t prevent allergies, it certainly won’t cause them, either.
  • If your family has a history of allergies to eggs, giving your baby cooked eggs before they turn 8 months old may help prevent the allergy says the AIFA. Likewise, if your baby already shows signs of eczema and may be allergic to eggs, introducing peanuts could help prevent allergies to peanuts.
  • Definitely avoid smoking during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and keep your baby away from cigarette smoke because it may cause wheezing, contribute to asthma and other respiratory illnesses according to the AAAAI.
  • Exposure to dust mites has been shown to trigger allergies early in life, so keep dust mites away by getting rid of carpets and protecting pillow covers and mattresses says the AAAAI.

When it comes to your diet during pregnancy, allergy researcher Philip Calder of the University of Southampton told The Irish News that it’s best just to eat healthy – fruits, vegetables, lots of fiber, healthy fats, and some oily fish that are high in omega-3. He says healthy (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats may actually be protective, but research still has a long way to go to actually prove it.

Healthy fats aren’t just found in fish, you can also get them from nuts, which might have some helpful properties in and of themselves. Eating tree nuts and peanuts during pregnancy if you aren’t allergic yourself may prevent your child from becoming allergic to them. According to the Huffington Post, a study of over 8,000 pregnant women found that their babies were least likely to have allergies to nuts when the pregnant women ate nuts at least five times a week.

Keep in mind this is just one study, and although a few more are showing the benefits of eating nuts during pregnancy and healthy fats, there’s no tried and true way to keep your baby allergy-free. Just follow a healthy diet plan like the one recommended above and you’ll be doing everything you to prevent allergies in your baby.

Author Bio:

Daisy Grace is a Health & Beauty Consultant, who helps women live a life they love, in a body they live. She enjoys writing on different topics related to women’s health issues. She is a long-time native from Oklahoma, USA and writes article on various topics. Daisy’s purpose and passion lies in facilitating health breakthroughs with women who deserve good health, happiness and self-love. She is being also exploring new things related to general health and beauty. Join Daisy on Twitter.

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