“Despite breastfeeding being recommended as the sole source of nutrition in the first six months of life, an increasing number of studies have implicated breastfeeding as a cause of the increasing trend in nut allergy,” stated Marjan Kljakovic, a professor and author of a recent study done by the Australian National University Medical School, in association with the ACT Health Directorate. In the last 20 years, nut allergies in Australian children have risen dramatically, raising concern about the mothers’ diets during pregnancy. Researchers believe that it is not breast milk that causes the allergy, but rather the traces of nuts found within the milk.
In a study involving 15,000 preschool aged children, 3.2% had a peanut allergy, while 3.9% were allergic to other nuts. Studies showed that Australian children are 1.5 times more likely to develop a nut allergy than British children of the same age. Kljakovic attributes the higher likelihood of an allergy in the former to the belief that Australian women are eating more nuts during pregnancy than British women.
While breastfeeding is still an important part of a baby’s nutrition, the Australian Breastfeeding Association has made a statement asking all expectant parents to be mindful of their food tolerances. With peanuts causing two-thirds of all fatal food related allergies, it is important to be conscious of how a mother’s diet may influence her baby.