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Revised Government advice on consumption of peanut during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and early life and development of peanut allergy*

  • Last modified date:
    25 August 2009
  • Gateway reference:
    not required

Following a major review of the scientific evidence, the Government has revised its advice to consumers about eating peanuts during pregnancy, breastfeeding and the first few years of life.

This review ** has shown that there is no clear evidence that eating or not eating peanuts (or foods containing peanuts) during pregnancy, whilst breastfeeding or during early infant life influences the chances of a child developing a peanut allergy. Therefore, the Government has revised its position and advice is now as follows:

  • Pregnancy/breastfeeding if mothers would like to eat peanuts or foods containing peanuts during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding, then they can choose to do so as part of a healthy balanced diet, irrespective of whether they have a family history of allergies.
  • When introducing peanut into the child's diet. If mothers choose to start giving their baby solid foods before 6 months (after talking to a health visitor or GP), they should not introduce peanuts or other allergens such as nuts, seeds, milk, eggs, wheat, fish or shellfish before this time. Furthermore, when these foods are introduced, they should be introduced one at a time so that they can spot any allergic reaction.
  • Where a child has already been diagnosed with another kind of allergy (e.g. eczema or an allergy to foods other than peanut), or if there is a history of allergy in the child's family. Mothers are encouraged to talk to their GP, health visitor or medical allergy specialist before giving peanut to the child for the first time, because they are at higher risk of developing peanut allergy.

The full text of the advice can be found on the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) website.

* Peanuts are also known as monkey nuts or ground nuts, and are different to other nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts etc.

**  An extensive review of the scientific evidence was carried out in 2008 by the independent Committee on Toxicity, who advise the UK Government.  Their Statement detailing the evidence and their conclusions can be found on the COT website: 

For further information on food allergy, including peanut allergy, see the FSA's Eatwell site.

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