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Mother eating peanuts while breastfeeding could help prevent allergies in child: Manitoba study

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Dr. Meghan Azad, research scientist at the Children's Hospital Institute of Manitoba and assistant professor in the Max Rady College of Medicine at the U of M.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dr. Meghan Azad, research scientist at the Children's Hospital Institute of Manitoba and assistant professor in the Max Rady College of Medicine at the U of M.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/9/2017 (398 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Parents who eat peanut products while breastfeeding their babies could help prevent future allergies in their children, according to a new study from the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, builds on recent studies showing that — contrary to longstanding beliefs — avoiding feeding infants peanut products doesn’t actually decrease their likelihood of developing an allergy to them. In fact, it may increase it.

“These studies were really well done and they’ve been very important… but they kind of ignored breastfeeding,” said Meghan Azad, a scientist at CHRIM and researcher with the AllerGen Network.

“We know from other research that peanut proteins actually make their way into breast milk,” she said, “so this is potentially one way that babies are actually getting exposed.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/9/2017 (398 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Parents who eat peanut products while breastfeeding their babies could help prevent future allergies in their children, according to a new study from the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, builds on recent studies showing that — contrary to longstanding beliefs — avoiding feeding infants peanut products doesn’t actually decrease their likelihood of developing an allergy to them. In fact, it may increase it.

"These studies were really well done and they’ve been very important… but they kind of ignored breastfeeding," said Meghan Azad, a scientist at CHRIM and researcher with the AllerGen Network.

"We know from other research that peanut proteins actually make their way into breast milk," she said, "so this is potentially one way that babies are actually getting exposed."

Using data from an asthma study that began in Winnipeg and Vancouver in 1995 and tracked 345 children from infancy to age seven, Azad and other researchers investigated the possible correlation between a mother’s peanut consumption while breastfeeding and peanut sensitization in her child at age seven.

Sensitization is a sort of "early warning sign of allergies," Azad explained.

What researchers found was that the risk of sensitization was lower among the children whose parents consumed peanut products while breastfeeding and fed them peanut products before their first birthday.

That's noteworthy in part because food allergies have been on the rise over the last few decades and currently around seven per cent of Canadian children have some form of allergy; a peanut allergy is most common.

It's also, perhaps, an added incentive to breastfeed where possible.

"Breastfeeding is healthy for many reasons," Azad said, "and this is maybe another added benefit that we just weren’t aware of yet."

The study wasn't without limitations: all the children monitored are classified as "high risk" for allergies, meaning there's a family history of allergies or a sibling who has an allergy.

Still, Azad said, it's a useful jumping off point for additional research.

"It would be great to test this out as a new recommendation," she said, in a "study where we actually advise moms to eat peanuts while breastfeeding to monitor that in a more quantifiable way and really confirm whether there's an effect."

jane.gerster@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 4:57 PM CDT: Adds photo

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