High sugar consumption during pregnancy may increase the risk of children developing allergies and allergic asthma, according to a new study led by the Queen Mary University of London. The study findings were published in the European Respiratory Journal.
During the study, the team of researchers evaluated almost 9,000 mothers and their children, whose data was collected during a birth cohort study by the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, otherwise referred to as the Children of the 90s. All of the mothers were pregnant during the early 90s and their children have been followed up on ever since.
The new study analyzed the link between the mother’s sugar consumption during pregnancy and asthma. The children were tested for asthma and skin tests were used to test them for allergens. The findings showed that there were definite links to allergies and allergic asthma.
Researchers compared data from 20 percent of the mothers who had consumed the highest amounts of sugar during pregnancy to 20 percent of mothers who had consumed the least amount of sugar during pregnancy. The comparisons showed that children born to mothers who had consumed the highest amounts of sugar had a 38 percent higher risk for developing allergies, of which, 73 percent of those children would have an allergic reaction to two or more allergens. In addition, those children had a 101 percent higher risk for developing allergic asthma.
While researchers cannot conclusively say allergies and allergic asthma are caused in children due to a mother consuming high levels of sugar during pregnancy, Professor Seif Shaheen, the lead researcher with the Queen Mary University of London, said they plan to continue testing their hypothesis with the utmost sense of urgency.
Shaheen said the next step is to try to replicate their findings using a different group of mothers and their children. If that test shows the same results, then researchers will design a controlled, randomized trial to determine whether they can prevent the occurrence of childhood allergies and allergic asthma by reducing the mother’s intake of sugar while pregnant. Until such time, Shaheen cautions expectant mothers against consuming too much sugar.
By Trixie Dillwood