PrEggNut Study Q&A with Dr Merryn Netting

25 Mar 2022
PrEggNut Study Q&A with Dr Merryn Netting

PrEggNut Study Q&A with Dr Merryn Netting

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is currently co-leading a multicentre study spanning across Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to test how the amount of eggs and peanuts a mother eats during pregnancy and breastfeeding impacts her baby’s food allergy development.

SAHMRI researcher and paediatric dietitian, Dr Merryn Netting, explains the study further.

Q: What’s special about the PrEggNut Study?

A: The PrEggNut Study is the first in the world to compare the effects of women eating high amounts of egg and peanut while pregnant to consuming a normal amount, on egg and peanut allergy development in their children. It’s special because it’s going to teach us a lot about food allergy development in kids that we’ll be able to apply to other kinds of food allergies, not just egg and peanut.

Q: Why is it so important to investigate this?

A: 1 in 10 children in Australia will develop a food allergy and 1 in 20 maintain that allergy into teenagerhood. Evidence to date suggests that the ideal time to prevent food allergy may be during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but not enough is known about this.

It’s vitally important that we undertake this study because it’ll help increase our understanding of ways to reduce food allergies developing. With the results from this study we will be able to properly advise women on how much of certain foods that they should be eating when pregnant to reduce food allergy risk in their baby. Currently we just don’t have an answer to this question.

Q: What do we know about allergies so far?

A: Our other research has shown that introducing common food allergens, like egg and peanut butter, in the diet of babies soon after they start eating solid foods can help to reduce food allergies developing. However, some babies appear to be already on an allergy pathway prior to commencing solid foods. Hence, we think the mother’s diet may be the key to reducing food allergy development even further.

Q: How many participants are you looking for?

A: We need around 2100 women to join the study nationwide and are looking to sign up 700 in South Australia. So far, 250 South Australians have signed up, with just under a year left to be part of this ground breaking study, so we’re very keen for anyone who’s interested in being a part of this important research to get in touch.

Q: What’s the criteria?

A: To be eligible, pregnant women must be less than 23 weeks gestation, they must be planning to breast feed and the child they’re carrying must have at least two close family relatives with an allergic condition, such as asthma, eczema, hay fever or food allergy.

Q: What does participation in the study involve?

A: Participants will be randomly assigned to one of two study groups, women in one group will eat a standard egg and peanut diet, the other group will consume a higher egg and peanut diet.

The women will be asked to follow the diet advice for their group from 22 weeks gestation until their baby is 4 months of age. The outcomes of egg and peanut allergies will then be compared between the two groups when the children are 1 year old.

Q: How do you sign up?

A: If you’d like to join the study you can register your interest via our website, alternatively you can email us at or phone 08 8128 4436.

Interested in this study?

Download the participant information form