(HealthDay News) – The offspring of mothers who consume peanuts or tree nuts (P/TN) during pregnancy are less likely to be allergic to these foods, according to a study published online Dec. 23 in JAMA Pediatrics.

A. Lindsay Frazier, MD, from the Dana-Farber Children’s Cancer Center in Boston, and colleagues examined the association between peri-pregnancy consumption of P/TN and a diagnosis of P/TN allergy in 10,907 participants born between 1990 and 1994.

The researchers identified 308 cases of general food allergy and 140 cases of P/TN allergy among 8,205 children. The incidence of P/TN allergy was significantly lower among those whose non-allergic mothers had greater peri-pregnancy consumption of P/TN (odds ratio, 0.31 for at least five times a month vs. less than once a month). A positive but non-significant association was found between peri-pregnancy consumption of P/TN and the incidence of offspring P/TN allergy in allergic mothers.

“Our study supports the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases tolerance and lowers risk of childhood food allergy,” Frazier and colleagues conclude.

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