Too much sugar in pregnancy linked to children's allergies and asthma
Researchers have suggested that high sugar intake in pregnancy could be linked to increased risk of childhood allergies and allergic asthma, Food Navigator reports.
In a study of more than 9,000 mother-child pairs, the researchers found a 38% higher risk of allergy and a 101% higher risk of allergic asthma among the children of those who consumed the most sugar in pregnancy compared to those who consumed the least. They also found a 73% increased risk of allergy to more than one thing.
"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,” lead researcher Seif Shaheen said in Food Navigator. “However, given the extremely high consumption of sugar in the West, we will certainly be investigating this hypothesis further with some urgency.”
Although the study is observational and can’t prove a causal link, it is still another blow for the beleaguered sugar industry. Previous research in mice has suggested a link between children’s sugar intake and increased risk of asthma — but this latest study did not find that. This is the first study to find a relationship between maternal sugar intake and allergies or asthma in children.
Whether or not this link is backed up with further research, the evidence that excessive sugar intake is unhealthy keeps building. High sugar intake is already known to raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease, which has led the American Heart Association to recommend a limit of about 6 teaspoons of added sugars per day for women, and about 9 teaspoons for men. For pregnant women in particular, those who have even slightly higher than normal blood sugar levels are also more likely to have a range of pregnancy complications, such as babies with a high birth weight or preeclampsia.
For food and drink manufacturers, negative consumer attitudes toward sugar already provide a strong motivation to cut sugar content. According to Mintel, 84% of Americans are trying to limit sugar in their diet and 79% check ingredient lists for the type of sweetener used. Although sugar is still the most popular sweetener, sales dropped by 16% from 2011 to 2016.
- Food Navigator Sugar in pregnancy linked to childhood asthma and allergy
- European Respiratory Journal Maternal intake of sugar during pregnancy and childhood respiratory and atopic outcomes