A recent study involving 500 pregnant women or new mothers within the past five years revealed that over 80 percent of them worry about transmitting their allergies to their unborn or newborn children. Among the respondents, 25 percent avoided consuming nuts during pregnancy due to the fear of inducing allergies in their unborn child. Additionally, gluten and pollen were identified as potential allergens avoided by expectant mothers, with 20 percent and 16 percent doing so, respectively.
The study also highlighted that 57 percent of women expressed concerns about passing on their existing allergies or sensitivities to their children. Surprisingly, 41 percent of new mothers suffered from hay fever, but 29 percent refrained from taking medication during pregnancy due to misconceptions about its safety or a lack of guidance.
In response to these findings, Dr. Shireen Emadossadaty, a GP and family health expert, is collaborating with Fusion Allergy Nasal Spray, the organization behind the research, to debunk allergy myths during Allergy Awareness Week (24th-30th April).
Dr. Emadossadaty stated, “It’s understandable that many expectant mothers have concerns about allergies and worry about passing on their own sensitivities to their child. While avoiding certain foods or environmental triggers like pollen might seem like a preventive measure, research suggests that exposure to common allergens during pregnancy, such as pollen, nuts, and eggs, can actually be beneficial.”
The study identified hay fever as the allergy most worrying to expectant mothers, with 36 percent expressing concerns about transmitting an egg intolerance and 28 percent about nut allergies. However, 22 percent of pregnant women and 40 percent of those who have given birth in the past believe there is insufficient information about allergens and unborn babies.
When seeking advice on allergies during pregnancy, 42 percent of respondents would consult midwives, followed by doctors (37 percent). Additionally, 27 percent turned to online sources such as Google, while one in five sought guidance from friends or relatives who had previously been pregnant.
The study further revealed that 27 percent of respondents experienced worsening hay fever symptoms during pregnancy, with 28 percent admitting it hindered their enjoyment of the pregnancy. Among those with children, one in five had a child with hay fever, and 42 percent sought medical advice on appropriate medication for their child. Parents were also concerned about the impact of hay fever on their child’s schooling (39 percent), mood (38 percent), and ability to play with other children (28 percent).
Additionally, 28 percent of respondents stated that they would feel more comfortable taking medication for their own hay fever if it were drug-free or natural.
Dr. Shireen Emadossadaty, representing Fusion Allergy Nasal Spray, emphasized the need to address allergy-related misconceptions. She stated, “There are numerous half-truths and myths surrounding allergies, and hay fever is a concern for many. However, we want to reassure pregnant individuals and their loved ones that suffering through hay fever is not necessary during pregnancy.”
Dr. Emadossadaty Debunks Allergy Myths: Myth: Allergies worsen with each exposure. Verdict: False – There is no way to predict individual reactions, which may vary with each exposure.
Myth: Hay fever symptoms can worsen during pregnancy. Verdict: True – Hormonal and immunological changes can increase nasal congestion and sensitivity to allergens, leading to exacerbated symptoms.
Myth: Allergies and intolerances are the same. Verdict: False – While symptoms may overlap, it is important to differentiate between allergies and intolerances. Food intolerances can cause bloating, abdominal discomfort, and bowel changes, whereas allergies can be life-threatening.
Myth: Hay fever is something people outgrow. Verdict: True (in some cases) – Symptoms often improve with age, and approximately one in five individuals experience a complete resolution of symptoms.
Myth: Honey alleviates hay fever symptoms. Verdict: False – Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of honey in treating hay fever symptoms.