New research suggests that women who consume a large amount of sugar during pregnancy are making their children twice as likely to develop asthma.
The study began in the 1990s and analysed data from nearly 9,000 mother and child pairs, and found a clear link between asthma and consumption of free sugars.
Published in the European Respiratory Journal, and carried out by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, the study compared those with the highest sugar consumption to those with the lowest. The researchers found that the children of those with the highest sugar intake had a one-in-five chance of developing asthma, compared to a one-in-ten chance for those with the lowest intake.
Already, much of the blame for asthma development had been placed on diet, but this is the first real piece of research into consumption of sugar during pregnancy.
Researchers believe that a high intake of fructose causes an immune response, causing inflammation in the lungs.
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 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.”