There has been a lot of press recently about whether or not eating certain foods during pregnancy can decrease the likelihood of a child developing food allergies.
Although the media attention about reducing allergies is based on research studies that suggest there may be a connection, these studies have not taken into account other risk factors for the development of childhood allergies.
Allergy Risk Factors • Family history of allergies • Exposure to environmental toxins (pollution, cigarette smoke) • Asthma • Other allergies • Gender (boys are more susceptible than girls)
“There are multiple factors that can contribute to childhood allergies,” says J. Andrew Bird, M.D., Director of the Food Allergy Center at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
“There’s no evidence to suggest that eating a certain amount of peanuts or drinking a certain amount of milk will decrease the risk of a child developing allergies.”
Focus on Eating Healthy, Not Avoiding Certain Foods
According to Dr. Bird, mothers-to-be should concentrate on eating a healthy diet instead of focusing on particular foods. “Diet during pregnancy should be nutritionally balanced so the baby gets plenty of vitamins and minerals,” says Dr. Bird.
A pregnancy diet should include:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Proteins (fish, chicken, lean meats, eggs, beans)
- Whole grains (cereal, pasta, bread)
- Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Healthy fats in moderation (olive oil, canola oil, nuts)
Dr. Bird says that mothers sometimes tend to question what they could have done differently when their children end up with allergies.
“There are multiple things that contribute to the development of allergies,” he says. “There’s no one thing a mother can do that will solely affect whether or not her child will have allergies.”