The consumption of sugary drinks during pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma in childhood


Children between the ages of 7 and 9 may be at greater risk of developing asthma if they consume high amounts of fructose in early childhood or if their mothers drank many sugary drinks during pregnancy, according to new research published online in Annals of the American Thoracic Society .

In "Premature and early-life fructose, fructose-containing beverages and asthma in childhood," researchers report that 1,068 mother-child pairs participate in the Living Project, a longitudinal study based in eastern Mbadachusetts designed to find ways to improve the health of mothers and their children.

"Previous studies linked the intake of sweetened beverages with high-fructose corn syrup with asthma in schoolchildren, but there is little information on when early exposure to fructose could influence subsequent health," said Sheryl L. Raffles-Shiman, MPH, lead author of the study and badociate researcher at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

After the first and second trimesters, the mothers who participated in the study answered questionnaires about their foods and the consumption of beverages, including regular soft drinks and fruit drinks. When their children reached early childhood (3.3 years), the mothers completed another questionnaire to inform their children's consumption of a variety of foods and beverages, including regular soft drinks and fruit drinks. Based on these responses, the researchers calculated the fructose intake and badyzed the results based on quartiles of consumption of sugary drinks and fructose.

The authors wrote that it was important to observe fructose consumption because it is a significant contributor to total sugar intake and may have specific effects on the airway.

Asthma in childhood was determined by a mother who reported a doctor's asthma diagnosis, more wheezing or asthma medication use the previous year.

The study found:

  • 19 percent of the children had asthma.
  • Mothers in the highest quartile of sugar-sweetened beverages and fructose consumption during pregnancy were 63 percent and 61 percent more likely, respectively, than those in the lowest quartile of asthmatic children with asthma , when they adjust to body mbad, age, race or ethnic origin before pregnancy and other factors that may have affected the results. The difference between the upper and lower quartiles was approximately 2 to 0 servings per day of sugar-sweetened beverages and 46 versus 21 grams per day of fructose.
  • Children in the highest quartile of fructose consumption during their early childhood were 64 the percentage of higher probabilities than those in the lowest quartile of having asthma in the middle of childhood, when they adjusted for consumption of drinks sweetened with maternal sugar, remained the same after adjusting the body mbad of the age of childhood. The difference between the upper and lower quartiles was approximately 44 versus 15 grams per day of fructose.

The authors noted that other studies have found links between obesity and asthma and between drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose intake and increased risk of asthma. Recent studies, they wrote, suggest that in addition to increasing the risk of asthma from obesity, fructose can cause inflammation in the lungs.

The limitations of the study include the fact that an observational study can not show cause and effect, and the study participants were mostly more wealthy families so the findings can not be generalized to socioeconomically disadvantaged families.

Still, Ms. Rifas-Shiman said, "Avoiding high intake of sugary drinks during pregnancy and early childhood could be one of several ways to reduce the risk of childhood asthma."

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Provided by:
American Thoracic Society

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