Food allergies in pregnant women: a study of prevalence in expecting mothers and association with neonatal outcomes
Seita, Helene M.
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Introduction: Food allergies, the second most common form of allergic disorders in Western countries, have been on the rise in the US over the past few decades especially in young children. As the exact causes of food sensitizations are still unknown, much research has been dedicated to solving the mystery of how and why individuals develop food allergies in the first place. However, very few studies have focused solely on the prevalence of food allergies in the adult population. Furthermore, the prevalence of food allergies in expecting mothers and their potential impact on mother-baby health outcomes have barely been investigated. As such, this retrospective chart review study aimed at comparing the prevalence of food allergies in pregnant women to that of the adult US population and investigated the potential effects of maternal food allergies on perinatal maternal outcomes and infant health. Methods: A total of 595 maternal charts and 614 infant charts were reviewed for expecting mothers age 18 to 49 years old who gave birth at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC, between November 15, 2011 and November 15, 2012. Mothers’ data collected included basic demographic information, presence and nature of food allergies, and if applicable, occurrence and length of High Risk Antepartum visits. In addition to basic infant demographic information, the infant health outcomes collected were, when applicable: gestational age at birth, birth weight, 1 and 5 minute APGAR scores, NICU admissions and length of stay, as well as infant death. All statistical tests were two-tailed and p values < 0.05 were considered significant. Results: Food allergies were documented in 5.6% (N = 22) of the mothers, which was not significantly different from the national average reported by the FDA (Vierk et al., 2007). The most commonly reported allergy in the study’s pregnant women sample was seafood (42.2%), and the least common maternal food hypersensitivity disorder in the sample was egg allergy (2.2%). No significant relationship was found between the presence of maternal food allergies and maternal or infant health outcomes. Conclusion: Our study found that the proportion of pregnant women with food allergies was consistent with the FDA-reported percentage of US adult population affected by food allergies. Furthermore, we were unable to establish significant relationships between the presence of maternal food allergies and mother-baby health outcomes.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University