More than eight in 10 pregnant women with allergies worry about passing them on to their child.
A study of 500 women who are currently pregnant, or who gave birth within the last five years, found a quarter of them avoided eating nuts while pregnant in case they gave their unborn child an allergy.
Gluten (20%) and pollen (16%) are also among the list of potential allergens avoided by mums-to-be.
While 57% were worried about passing on an existing sensitivity of their own.
Of those who have already had their baby, 41% suffered from hay fever, yet 29% took medication for it during their pregnancy because they didn’t realise they were allowed or felt there was a lack of advice.
Following the findings, Dr. Shireen Emadossadaty, a GP and family health expert, is working with Fusion Allergy Nasal Spray, which commissioned the research, to debunk myths around allergies in pregnancy as part of Allergy Awareness week (24th-30th April).
She said: “It’s understandable that lots of mums-to-be have concerns around allergies and worry about passing on their own sensitivities to their child.
“We might think that by avoiding certain foods or environmental triggers like pollen will reduce the chances of this happening.
“However, there is some research to show that having exposure to common allergens like pollen, nuts and eggs during your pregnancy can actually be beneficial.”
Hay fever came out on top as the allergy expecting mums worry about passing onto their children.
And 36% of those currently worry about passing on an intolerance to eggs, while 28% fret about nuts.
However, while 22% of pregnant women feel there is not enough information about allergens and unborn babies, this rises to 40% of those who have given birth in the past.
It also emerged 42% are most likely to turn to midwives for advice around allergies in pregnancy, followed by doctors (37%).
But 27% took to Google to find answers, while one in five would ask friends or relatives who had been pregnant before.
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The research also found 27% of those polled said their hay fever got worse while they were carrying their child, with 28% admitting it meant they did not enjoy their pregnancy.
When pregnant, 28% said their hay fever symptoms made them feel low at times, 23% spent less time outdoors and 18% were less active.
Of those already with children, one in five had a child with hay fever, with 42%stating they have sought medical advice about what medication to give them.
Parents also worried hay fever would affect their school (39%), mood (38%) and being able to play with other children (28%).
And 28% would feel more comfortable taking medication for their own hay fever if it was drug-free or natural.
Dr. Shireen Emadossadaty, for Fusion Allergy Nasal Spray, added: “As with so many issues around pregnancy, there’s a lot of half-truths and myths around allergies.
“Hay fever is certainly something many are worried about, as anyone who suffers will tell you – it’s no picnic.
“But we want to reassure pregnant people – and their loved ones – that just because you’re pregnant, you don’t have to suffer through it.”
DR. SHIREEN DEBUNKS ALLERGY MYTHS:
Myth: Allergies get worse with each exposure
Verdict: False – there’s no way to predict how you will react each time – it may be better, worse or the same as before.
Myth: Hay fever symptoms can worsen during pregnancy
Verdict: True – hormonal and immunological changes can increase nasal congestion and sensitivity to allergens causing a worsening of symptoms.
Myth: An allergy and an intolerance are the same
Verdict: False – while some symptoms may be similar, understanding the difference between the two is important. Food intolerances can cause bloating, abdominal discomfort, bowel changes etc – however an allergy can be life threatening.
Myth: Hay fever is something you will grow out of
Verdict: True (sometimes!) – many people find their symptoms ease with age and for approximately one in five people, symptoms disappear.
Myth: Honey can reduce symptoms of hay fever
Verdict: False – there is currently a lack of evidence regarding the benefits of honey in treating hay fever symptoms.
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