Eating Peanuts While Breastfeeding Could Protect Babies From Allergy, Study Suggests


In the ongoing conversation about peanut allergies, a new study sheds light on a compelling approach to reduce the risk of peanut sensitization in children potentially. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, examines the impact of maternal peanut consumption during breastfeeding and the early introduction of peanuts to infants.

Mother breastfeeding a baby.

Background: Changing Perspectives on Peanut Allergy

Traditionally, the avoidance of peanuts during infancy was thought to prevent peanut allergies. However, recent trials have suggested the opposite, indicating that early exposure might actually decrease the risk. What was missing in this discussion was the role of maternal peanut consumption during breastfeeding.

The Study: A Closer Look

The study conducted a secondary analysis of a nested cohort within the 1995 Canadian Asthma Primary Prevention Study. It focused on determining the relationship between a mother’s peanut consumption while breastfeeding, the timing of introducing peanuts to the infant, and the subsequent risk of peanut sensitization at age 7.

Key Findings

  • Maternal Consumption and Early Introduction: The study found the lowest incidence of peanut sensitization (1.7%) in children whose mothers ate peanuts while breastfeeding and introduced peanuts to their babies before 12 months.
  • Delayed Introduction: A significantly higher incidence of sensitization (15.1%) was observed if mothers consumed peanuts while breastfeeding but delayed introducing peanuts beyond 12 months.
  • Maternal Avoidance with Early Introduction: If mothers avoided peanuts but introduced them to infants by 12 months, the sensitization rate was 17.6%.

Interpretation and Implications

This research suggests a novel interaction between maternal and infant peanut consumption. The combined approach of maternal consumption during breastfeeding with early peanut introduction to infants appears to be protective against peanut sensitization. This contradicts earlier beliefs that avoiding peanuts could prevent allergies.

Discussion: A New Paradigm in Allergy Prevention

The study’s findings advocate for a dual strategy in combating peanut sensitization. It underscores the importance of both the timing and the route of peanut introduction as critical factors. For parents and healthcare professionals, this research offers a new perspective on dietary practices during infancy and breastfeeding.

Conclusion: Toward a Healthier Future

This study provides valuable insights as we navigate the complexities of peanut allergies. By considering both maternal and infant dietary habits, we can better understand and potentially reduce the risk of peanut sensitization in children. This research paves the way for more informed decisions and, potentially, a decrease in peanut allergy incidences in future generations.


  • Study Title: Reduced risk of peanut sensitization following exposure through breastfeeding and early peanut introduction
  • Journal: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 141, Issue 4, April 2018, Pages 1538
  • Author: Gill Rapley