Mum’s High Sugar Intake In Pregnancy Ups Kid’s Allergic Asthma Risk

Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, listen carefully! High sugar intake during pregnancy may increase your children’s chance of developing an allergy or allergic asthma, warns a new study.

According to the recently released study, pregnant women who consume too many sugary foods and drinks are inadvertently doubling the future risk of their child to develop allergic asthma, the most common form of asthma.

Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London studied almost 9,000 mother and child pairs participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), an ongoing world-leading birth cohort study that tracks the health of families with children born between April 1, 1991, and December 31, 1992. After examining the data, the researchers found a strong link between prenatal higher consumption of free sugars, such as those found in fizzy drinks and processed food, and the inflammatory disease risk in children.

To determine a potential link between the two, the research team compared 20 percent of mothers with highest intake of sugar- equivalent to between 82 and 345 grams per day- to the 20 percent of women with the lowest sugar intake -less than 34 grams per day.

The team found, for children born to mothers with highest sugar intake during pregnancy were at an increased of 38 percent for allergy diagnosis. These children had a 73 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with an allergy to two or more allergens, and their allergic asthma risk jumped by a whopping 101 percent. This indicates that the risk of developing allergic asthma for children of women with highest sugar intake was double that of kids born to mothers in the low-sugar intake group.

The study’s lead-researcher, Professor Seif Shaheen, said, “We cannot say on the basis of these observations that a high intake of sugar by mothers in pregnancy is definitely causing allergy and allergic asthma in their offspring. However, given the extremely high consumption of sugar in the West, we will certainly be investigating this hypothesis further with some urgency.”

The study is observational, and it does not prove a causal link between maternal intake of free sugars in pregnancy and allergy and asthma risk in kids, the study authors acknowledged, further stressing that a randomised controlled trial would be required to determine a causal link between the two and solidify the findings.

“The first step is to see whether we can replicate these findings in a different cohort of mothers and children. If we can, then we will design a trial to test whether we can prevent childhood allergy and allergic asthma by reducing the consumption of sugar by mothers during pregnancy. In the meantime, we would recommend that pregnant women follow current guidelines and avoid excessive sugar consumption,” Professor Shaheen concluded.

The study was published today (Thursday, July 6) in the European Respiratory Journal.