Pediatrics Articles

Nut Allergies in Children

by Randall Neustaedter OMD

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Children’s allergies to nuts have dramatically increased in recent years. Several theories have been proposed for this increased sensitivity.

The role of vaccines

The first theory concerns childhood vaccinations. Vaccines have been suspected of causing an increase in allergic disease because their purpose is to increase antibody production and trigger antibody responses. This shift of the immune system to excessive antibody reactions is often cited by vaccine critics as a possible cause of the increasing childhood allergies. Several studies have confirmed that vaccinated children have a much higher incidence of allergies, at least double the risk, compared to unvaccinated children (Enriquez, 2005). Peanut oil used in vaccine production has also been proposed as a possible cause of peanut allergies in children (Fraser, 2011).

The role of bacteria

A second theory about the cause of increasing allergies is the “hygiene hypothesis”. Lack of exposure to pathogens including intestinal parasites and environmental bacteria has been proposed as a cause of the increase in allergies (Velasquez-Manoff, 2012). This theory postulates that bacteria and parasites educate the immune system. Ridding the body of these pathogens and other healthy bacteria through antibiotic use, sanitation, and deworming medicines causes disruption in the small intestine and the immune system that resides there. The result is an overactive and unregulated immune system with resultant allergic responses. Taking probiotics and other supplements to support intestinal health have been proposed as solutions to this problem of disrupted intestinal ecology.

Nut consumption during pregnancy

A third suggested cause of nut allergies is the exposure to nuts ingested by mothers during pregnancy, which could result in more allergies in their children. This theory was recently tested in a controlled study (Maslova, 2012). According to the results of this study, the opposite seems to be true. Peanut and tree nut consumption during pregnancy was associated with a decreased incidence of allergies and asthma in their children. The children of mothers who ate nuts once a week during pregnancy were a third less likely to have asthma compared to children whose mothers ate no nuts. This confirmed previous studies that had led the American Academy of Pediatrics to reverse their recommendation that pregnant women avoid eating peanuts.

How to prevent nut allergies in children

To prevent nut allergies parents can follow a few simple recommendations based on this research.

  • Eat nuts during pregnancy to prevent nut allergies
  • Avoid vaccinations whenever possible and sensible
  • Use holistic methods of treatment to avoid the use of antibiotics
  • Give children a probiotic supplement
  • Expose children to common sources of environmental bacteria

 

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  • Dagmar Dolatschko

    another hypothesis for the increase in allergies is the ever increasing use of pesticides also on nut trees and the chemicals used in processing nut products (cleaning agents for machines even). Somebody must have researched this connection? Using organic products, supporting local and smaller farmers is more expensive, but will save our health in the long-run. 

    • Dr. Neustaedter OMD

      There have been many proposals about nut allergies including pesticides and GMO food products, but they need to be documented by research or they are just speculative.

  • Zyzx

    My 11 yo daughter has not been vaccinated. Are there any vaccinations that she should have?

    • Cureguide

       I think you have made a wise choice.