According to a study found in the European Respiratory Journal, the amount of sugar a woman eat during her pregnancy can increase the risk of her future child’s susceptibility to allergies and allergy related asthma.

Vital Roles

Originally, past research had focused on the child’s intake of high sugar foods as a link to asthma, however now this new study shows that the mother’s diet may play a vital role too.

By analyzing the data collected from almost 9,000 pregnant women in the early 1990’s and then later from their children who were tested for asthma and common allergies at the age of 7, the managed to find links between certain factors. During their pregnancy, the researchers had asked the women about their weekly consumption within each food group and they were asked about their consumption of certain foods or drinks, such as coffee and tea and sugar. They didn’t calculate the natural sugars, found in fruit, vegetables and dairy.

Over time the researchers found little to link normal asthma with the mother’s sugar intake, however when they looked a little closer they found a connection with the development of allergic asthma, which they tested via a basic skin tests, which checks for basic airborne allergies such as animal hair and dust mites.

Children of women who were placed in the top fifth percentile of sugar intake were more likely to have allergic asthma compared to children of mothers placed in the bottom fifth.

The kids are more 38% more likely to also suffer from other allergies and 73% more likely to become allergic to more than two different allergens.

The research also took into consideration other factors when studying the women, such as social and psychological factors. The study found that not all allergic conditions were linked to the mother’s intake of sugar. There are also no connections to eczema and hay fever.

Although they didn’t manage to find a cause and effect relationship, they were able to speculate that it’s possible that the high intake of sugar during the pregnancy may increase inflammation in the child’s developing lung tissue, leaving them susceptible to allergies.

“We know that the prenatal period may be crucial for determining risk of asthma and allergies in childhood, and recent trials have confirmed that maternal diet in pregnancy is important.” says first author Annabelle Bedard, a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Primary Care and Public Health at Queen Mary University of London.

Corn Syrup

Bedard believes that the main offender is probably high-fructose corn syrup. It has increased in consumption from 0% to almost 30% from 1979 to 2000 in the United States.

“The dramatic ‘epidemic’ of asthma and allergies in the West in the last 50 years is still largely unexplained,” she says. “One potential culprit is a change in diet.”

The conductors of the study are urging the need for further research, as western countries continue to increase their sugar consumption. They hope to get approval to conduct studies that can see if a reduced sugar diet during pregnancy will have a positive effect on the child’s future health.