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Eating sugary foods while pregnant raises risk of asthma

 
  • Researchers have found that sugary diets seem to increase damage to the lungs
  • But it did not increase the risk of eczema or hayfever, the team of scientists said
  • Asthma is known to be caused by inflammation of the tubes that reach the lungs 

Colin Fernandez Science Correspondent For The Daily Mail

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Eating sugary foods while pregnant can increase a child’s risk of being born with asthma.

Researchers have found that fructose-laden diets seem to increase damage to the lungs which in turn makes allergic asthma more likely.

But it did not increase the risk of eczema or hayfever, the team of scientists said.

Asthma is caused by inflammation of the tubes that reach the lungs. In around half of all cases it is triggered by an allergen such as dust mites, animal fur or pollen.

Researchers from Queen Mary University London, Bristol University and others used data from 9,000 pairs of mothers and children who were pregnant in the early 1990s, and have been since followed up ever since.

The research, published in the European Respiratory Journal, looked to see if there was a link between eating high amounts of sugar when pregnant and with allergies such as dust mite, grass and asthma.

Researchers have found that sugary diets seem to increase damage to the lungs which in turn makes allergic asthma more likely

Researchers have found that sugary diets seem to increase damage to the lungs which in turn makes allergic asthma more likely

Researchers have found that sugary diets seem to increase damage to the lungs which in turn makes allergic asthma more likely

While there was only weak evidence for a link between free sugar intake in pregnancy and asthma overall, there were strong positive associations with allergic asthma and other allergies.

What did they find? 

Mothers with the highest sugar intake were 101 per cent more likely to have children who went on to develop allergic asthma than the mothers with the lowest sugar intake, and allergies in general by up to 73 per cent.

Children eating a high diet of sugars were not found to be at increased risk of allergic asthma, so it seems the time when the lung is most vulnerable is while the baby is in the womb.

Allergic asthma in children has steadily risen over the past few decades.

The amount of sugar in the diet of pregnant mothers has also risen – by around 25 per cent above worldwide since 1970 levels.

Not definitive 

THE GREAT ASTHMA MYTH

A third of adults diagnosed with asthma may not actually have the condition, research suggested in January.

Experts think many people are misdiagnosed with the condition, while others recover to the extent the asthma is no longer active.

The Canadian team said doctors are too often diagnosing their patients with asthma without doing the proper tests.

‘Doctors wouldn’t diagnose diabetes without checking blood sugar levels, or a broken bone without ordering an X-ray,’ lead author Professor Shawn Aaron, of the University of Ottawa, said. 

‘But for some reason many doctors are not ordering the spirometry tests that can definitely diagnose asthma.’ 

Lead researcher Professor Seif Shaheen from QMUL 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.’

Inflammation 

The team believe that a high maternal intake of the sugar fructose causes inflammation in the baby’s lung, which makes allergic asthma more likely.

The researchers controlled for numerous potential confounders in their analyses, such as background maternal characteristics, social factors and other aspects of maternal diet, including foods and nutrients that have been previously linked to childhood asthma and allergy. 

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