To investigate, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City studied more than 500 infants between 3 and 15 months old who likely had a milk or egg allergy but no known peanut allergy. Most infants had not yet tried to eat peanuts.
The researchers found that more than a quarter of the infants displayed a strong reaction in a peanut "sensitivity" test, with children of mothers who had consumed peanuts during pregnancy at nearly three times the odds of showing this potential indication of the allergy, compared to kids whose mothers had avoided peanuts.
Researchers also found that the more peanuts that a woman reported eating while pregnant, the greater her infant's risk of a positive test.
Consuming peanuts while breast-feeding, however, did not appear to significantly affect the test result.
The researchers stop short of recommending pregnant mothers avoid peanuts and caution that their results don't pinpoint a cause and effect relationship. They also note that the children in the study only underwent blood tests for peanut sensitivity, which isn't the same as a peanut allergy diagnosis.
To date, there has been conflicting evidence as to whether or not eating peanuts during pregnancy is tied to a child's allergy risk.
The study was reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
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