Earlier this week Kate Middleton publicly opted not to eat peanut paste at an event in Copenhagen. I realize this does not sound like a huge deal to most of us common folk, but her decision has sent the media into an absolute flurry.
There have been rumors swirling for a few weeks now that Katie is pregnant and her declination of the peanuts, presumably to reduce the risk of a peanut allergy in her child, only fueled these rumors even more. Her press corp released a statement that she’s not allergic to peanuts, so either she’s developed an aversion, she wasn’t hungry, or she’s following someone’s advice to avoid them. Or, she just doesn’t really like peanuts to begin with.
I’m personally rooting for a pregnancy because it’s always fun to watch famous people go through normal things. Especially when you’re living through the same experience. Though I’m sure that all the adorable maternity wear she’s going to have access to is going to make my sweat pants look especially frumpy.
But to be honest, part of what stirred my interest in this article, besides my secret fan girl status when it comes to Kate Middleton, was the avoidance of peanuts being tied to pregnancy. My OB hasn’t said anything to me about peanuts and she has pretty much kicked me off all good food because of their varied risks to the baby. And lately I’ve been more or less living off of peanut butter sandwiches since I was forbidden to eat lunch meat unless heated until steaming, the thought of which makes me gag a little.
So I investigated.
Several years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that pregnant women avoid peanuts because of concerns about children developing peanut allergies. In 2008 they withdrew this recommendation because there was insufficient evidence to support it and because new studies had shown that for low risk women, eating peanuts while pregnant didn’t change the rate of peanut allergies.
Currently, the March of Dimes recommends that if you have a personal history of peanut allergies you (obviously) avoid them while pregnant, and at all other times too. Additionally, if you have a family history of peanut allergy, you also avoid them during pregnancy because you could potentially increase the risk of your child developing one. But for those of us without peanut allergies and without family members with these allergies peanuts should be safe to eat throughout pregnancy.
There are other studies that serve to confound the issue, some of which show increased peanut sensitivity, others of which show no correlation between maternal peanut consumption and allergies.
The bottom line is, we don’t know for sure what is best. If you’re worried talk to your OB, get their opinion and then make the decision for yourself. Like Kate, you certainly won’t suffer any ill effects if you decline peanut butter, you know, except possibly having everyone in the world assuming you’re pregnant before you’re ready to tell them. Though I hear that side effect is pretty rare.