When I became pregnant with my son, it was simply a joyous occasion for my husband and I. We wanted to do everything possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Like most moms, I tried to stay active, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. I had never been happier in my life!
Just six months after my son was born, my husband and I began to notice what we now know as food allergy symptoms. It was common for my son to have an upset stomach and vomiting, redness and swelling of the eye, eczema, and asthma. I took my son to the doctor at least once a month and usually more often to which they would usually attribute his troubles to some sort of virus. Long story short, it took over a year before a doctor suggested we have my son tested for food allergies.
As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a ton of information on food allergies on the web and in print. Currently, the jury is still out on if there is a connection between what a mother eats during pregnancy and the likelihood that child will experience food allergies. There are also studies with conflicting reports on how timing the introduction of solid baby food could predispose a child for food allergies.
I’m not the judge, or the jury. I’m just a mom. A mom who wishes she had known sooner about the possibility that what you eat in pregnancy could predispose your child for food allergies.
Pregnancy 1: While pregnant with my son, I craved peanut butter…specifically peanut butter and pickle sandwiches (not just a pregnancy craving…that was always one of my favorites). I ate nuts as a heart healthy snack to keep my energy up and I drank lots of milk to build healthy bones for me and the baby. When my son was diagnosed at one year old with food allergies, he was allergic to soy, eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts. Interesting.
Pregnancy 2: I spoke at length with my son’s allergist upon learning I was pregnant with my second child. Although there were no conclusive studies on the subject, the seriousness of my son’s food allergies prompted him to recommend scaling back on the purest forms of allergens such as nuts, peanuts, milk, and eggs. That is exactly what I did. In some ways it was a pregnant woman’s nightmare when it comes to cravings because it eliminated a lot of things that I normally would have downed in a New-York minute! My daughter is now three years old and has had (knock on wood) none of the same symptoms as my son. She is able to safely have milk, soy, and eggs. We are holding off on introducing peanuts or nuts until she becomes a little older and then it will only be to see if she has those specific food allergies. Peanuts or nuts won’t be offered at home out of respect for her brother’s allergies. (Please note that during pregnancy it is not a good idea to change your diet or activities without first speaking with your OBGYN. For example, an OBGYN whose patient is avoiding the purest form of milk, may recommend the patient take calcium so mom and baby still get crucial nutrients…and so on.)
Honestly, I have no idea if making the above changes while pregnant with my daughter helped protect her against food allergies or not. But after having done my own research, approving it with my allergist and OBGYN, I needed to make those changes for me. Maybe those difficult changes will help my daughter live a life without food allergies. Maybe those changes helped me believe I was taking control of that pregnancy and doing everything I could to ensure my daughter’s safety…whether it helped or not.
Though my children seem to be growing up differently in regard to food allergies, I’m confident I gave each of them the healthiest start in life that I knew how. At the end of the day, we are parents doing the best we can and giving the best we can to our children. Mission accomplished!!!