Sugar Intake During Pregnancy – A Cause of Allergies in Kids?

When a woman gets pregnant, she gets cravings for a number of foods. There is a constant pressure to eat the right thing because you are not just eating for yourself, but also for your baby. A study done on 9,000 mothers and their children revealed that the amount of free sugar that a woman consumes during her pregnancy can be related to the allergies their kids have as they grow up.

What is free sugar?

Free sugar is sugar in the form of monosaccharides (like glucose and fructose) and disaccharides (like sucrose) that is added to food and found in syrups, honey and unsweetened fruit juice. This includes the sugar from basic carbohydrates. Fresh vegetables and fruit, however, are safe for consumption. 

What does the study say?

The study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and published in the European Respiratory Journal involved 9,000 mothers and their children. It was done to study the correlation between high consumption of sugar and allergies and allergic asthma in young children.

The study involved women who were pregnant in the 1990s and the allergies their children had by the time they were 7. This included asthma and common allergies like dust allergies. The effect was calculated in comparison to the amount of free sugar like that present in tea, coffee and certain food groups but not natural sugars in dairy, fruits and vegetables.

When comparing the mothers who consumed higher amounts of sugar to the mothers who consumed low amounts of sugar, there was an increased risk (38% increase) of allergy and an even higher risk (101% increase) of allergic asthma.

Professor Seif Shaheen, who was the lead researcher at QMUL, says that we cannot conclude from these observations that the high intake of sugar is the definite cause of allergies and allergic asthma. A more intensive research has to be done involving mothers from different parts of the globe, consuming different types of food to narrow down if high intake of sugar really is the cause of allergies in children.

Until then, it is advised that pregnant women continue to consume a healthy and balanced diet and avoid consuming too much sugar as they did before.

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