How Safe Is Your Baby from Peanut Butter?
Peanuts Can Be Harmful to Your Unborn Child
A recent study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has many mothers-to-be wondering if they should give up all peanut products.
This study looked at over 500 children between the ages of 3 to 15 months who had been diagnosed with either a milk or egg allergy but had not yet been identified as having a peanut allergy. The researchers tested these infants' peanut sensitivity levels and found that those whose levels were highest had been exposed to more peanut products in the womb through their mothers' diets. It is important to note, though, that the mothers in this study consumed peanuts frequently, not just occasionally.
Women who are pregnant often worry about every little thing they put into their bodies during this crucial time, and this is just one more study that feeds into the fear of doing the "wrong" thing for your unborn child. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I didn't know about this study during my two pregnancies, and I ate peanut butter.
I wrote this to try to give some comfort and reassurance to expectant mothers who love peanut butter but are afraid of putting their child at risk by eating it.
My Experience with Peanuts and Peanut Butter
I don't remember eating many actual peanuts when I was pregnant the first time, but I know I ate peanut butter fairly regularly. In fact, the doctor recommended I eat peanut butter as part of a three-day special diet before the three-hour gestational diabetes test I had to take.But that was two years ago, before this study came out.
During my second pregnancy, I craved peanuts almost every day and ate peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast several days a week. I had to take the three-hour gestational diabetes test again, and I had to eat the same diet as before, peanut butter included. I don't think the doctor would have given me the same diet as before had she thought there would be serious harm to my baby. Also, my iron tested low, and peanuts are a great source of iron, as well as cell-building protein.
My first-born daughter has no peanut allergy, although, admittedly, I didn't eat as many peanut products in that pregnancy as I did during my second one.
Happily, my second daughter doesn't have any peanut allergies, either! She loves peanut butter way more than her sister ever did, which makes me wonder: Did my eating more peanuts/peanut butter during my pregnancy with her lead her to have more interest in it outside of the womb than her sister?
Who knows? Maybe someone will put some money into researching that question.
While I personally don't feel that there's any real risk to the baby as long as you eat peanut products in moderation, I understand that peanut allergies are nothing to play around with. After all, they can be fatal.
So, if you want to play it safe but don't know how you're going to live without peanut butter, here are some alternatives you may want to consider.
Made from roasted soybeans, this is a great alternative to peanut butter that is deceptively close to the real thing. It smells just like real peanut butter and the creamy soynut butter has the same consistency as smooth peanut butter. Its taste is also very similar to actual peanut butter. And it's just about $5-10 more than Jif creamy peanut butter when you buy it in bulk on Amazon. The added sense of safety is well worth the added expense.
SunButter is made from roasted sunflower seeds. It is slightly cheaper than soynut butter, but it doesn't taste as much like regular peanut butter. However, it does have a similar consistency and it has added nutrients. SunButter actually has less saturated
fat, more vitamin E, more
iron, and even more fiber than peanut butter. Because it is made from sunflower seeds, it is also a great source of protein. If you can stand to have your "peanut butter" taste like sunflower seeds, this may be the perfect alternative for you.
Do What Seems Best to You
The health of the child growing inside you is obviously of the utmost importance. Only you can decide (with the help of your doctor) if the risks to your baby are too great for you to eat peanut butter while you are pregnant. And since there are some wonderful alternatives available for very little extra cost, it may be better to err on the side of caution. The choice is up to you. Just do what you feel is best for your unborn child.