Nuts Are Ok, But the Jury’s Still Out On Wine

Hot in the news media these days are two new studies, both bearing good news of sorts for mamas-to-be who detest pregnancy dietary restrictions.

The first study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that expecting moms who consume peanuts and tree nuts during their pregnancies are significantly less likely to have children with nut allergies. Apparently the previous wave of thinking had doctors advising women to avoid those protein-packed little gems, believing that limiting in-utero exposure to nuts would minimize kids risk of allergies later in life.

Not true, says the study; in fact it’s just the opposite. Since I somehow managed to miss this guidance, I’ve continued to chow down on peanut butter, almonds, and walnuts throughout my pregnancy. Here’s to a future child who will be able to enjoy a PB&J, and to the possibility of reduced nut allergies for kids everywhere!

The second study is more controversial—and confusing. Danish researcher and psychologist Janni Niclasen concluded that women who drank moderately during their pregnancies—we’re talking a glass of wine a week is all, or a bottle a month —had children who at age 7 were better behaved and more emotionally stable than women who abstained throughout gestation.

The wine isn’t seen as the reason for the children’s well-being; it’s attributed to the wine sippers as generally being better educated and living healthier lifestyles than their teetotaling peers. This conclusion appears to make the whole study moot—if the wine isn’t getting the credit, why even mention it?

Every article and post reporting on this study notes that the effects of alcohol on babies during pregnancy are widely unknown and caution that moms-to-be should not start hitting the sauce, all while running these stories under misleading headlines like “Moms who drink lightly during pregnancy have better-behaved kids.”

So what’s an expecting woman to think? Essentially, the (mixed) message seems to be: If you’re smart, healthy, and enjoy wine, your kids will probably turn out ok, even great, if you have an occasional glass during your pregnancies. But you didn’t hear that from us, or any other media organization.