This project aims to establish whether avoiding peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding has any effect on the development of peanut allergy in a woman's children.
<p>The researchers will develop a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique, which will be used to screen maternal, paternal and infant sera and breast milk for peanut allergen and a range of antibodies.
<p>The researchers will use diet diaries kept by pregnant women who have either been diagnosed or whose partner has been diagnosed as being atopic.
<p>Peanut avoidance advice is given before women are recruited to the study by midwives and/or health visitors, and again by the study dietician at recruitment.
<p>In addition, a questionnaire detailing peanut consumption during pregnancy will be administered retrospectively to other atopic women or those with atopic partners.
<p>Maternal biological samples have previously been screened for levels of peanut-specific IgG, using an optimised and validated 'in-house' assay. Peanut-specific IgG was measured in maternal sera samples.
<p>Breast milk samples have also been screened for peanut-specific IgG; this data is currently being statistically analysed.
The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) issued advice in 1998 recommending that women with a first degree relative with an allergy should avoid peanuts and peanut products during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
<p>The Committee also advised that children of these women should not be given such foods until 3 years of age.
<p>However, recent research suggests that avoidance may not the best strategy in preventing food allergy, and complete avoidance is extremely difficult to achieve.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.