It's not just safe for pregnant women to eat nuts, it protects kids

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LOS ANGELES — Pregnant peanut lovers can celebrate, perhaps with a PB&J snack: A study out Monday shows an association between pregnant women who ate the most peanuts and tree nuts and children with a decreased risk of allergy.

Women had been advised to avoid peanuts and tree nuts, as well as other highly allergic foods, during pregnancy and until the child turned 3, as a way to try to reduce the chances of an allergy. But those recommendations were rescinded after researchers found that the effort didn't work.

In the current study — from Boston Children's Hospital and published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics — found that women who ate nuts more than five times a month had the lowest incidence of allergic children.

"By linking maternal peanut consumption to reduced allergy risk, we are providing new data to support the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases tolerance and reduces risk of childhood food allergy," Dr. Michael Young, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

Further research is needed, wrote Dr. Ruchi Gupta in an opinion piece accompanying the study., to determine why one in 13 U.S. children has a food allergy of some kind.

The rate of allergies to nuts and other foods tripled among U.S. children from 1997 to 2007.