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Maternal experiences of peanut avoidance during pregnancy/lactation: An in-depth qualitative study

Authors


Dr Taraneh Dean, University of Portsmouth, PIMHS, St Georges Building, 141 High Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2HY, UK
Tel.: 023 9284 5243 (direct)/023 9284 5300 (general)
Fax: 023 9284 5200
E-mail: tara.dean@port.ac.uk

Abstract

In 1998 the Department of Health Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment issued a report to British general practitioners, which advised that pregnant mothers with a family history of atopy may wish to avoid peanuts during pregnancy/lactation. To explore the lived-in experience of mothers who avoided/did not avoid peanuts during pregnancy/lactation in the light of the information issued. A qualitative approach, using unstructured in-depth interviews to explore what it was like for mothers to have a particular experience. A purposive sample frame was designed to ensure a maximum variation of participants. Forty-two interviews were conducted: 25 participants avoided peanuts; 15 with a family history of atopy and 10 with no such history. Seventeen participants did not avoid peanuts; 10 with a family history of atopy and seven with no such history. Emergent themes included: variations in information provision, a lack of clarity in relation to information and advice about peanut avoidance, the risks entailed and the introduction of peanuts to the developing child's diet; the importance of atopy in influencing participants’ decisions to avoid peanuts and the importance of individual's choice in the decision making process. There was a significant difference in family size with respect to avoidance behaviour with ‘avoider’ families being smaller (p = 0.007). Avoidance was more likely in single child families (71% vs. 53%) although this difference was not significant. Improvements to the experience of avoidance and/or non-avoidance were primarily focused around provision of information and advice. In particular, a need for clear, consistent factual information and advice about the real risks associated with peanut consumption during pregnancy/lactation, and to whom these risks apply.

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