Childhood allergies may be influenced by prenatal exposure to sugar

WASHINGTON — The sugar moms consume while pregnant could increase their child’s risk of developing allergies and asthma, according to new research.

A study led by Queen Mary University of London found that the children of mothers who consumed the most sugar while pregnant were more likely to develop allergies and asthma at age 7 than the children of women who consumed the least sugar while pregnant.

The risk of asthma and allergies increases by 38 percent for the children of women who consumed the most sugar, the study finds. The research involved nearly 9,000 pairs of pregnant women and their children, who were followed since the early 1990s.

The findings do not suggest a link, but only an association between prenatal exposure to sugar and the chances a child develops asthma and allergies.

“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,” lead researcher Seif Shaheen, a professor with Queen Mary University of London, said in a news release.

“However, given the extremely high consumption of sugar in the West, we will certainly be investigating this hypothesis further with some urgency,” Shaheen said.

Researchers think that a mother’s sugar intake could be causing allergic inflammation in young, developing lungs.

The study reports that the children’s sugar intake in early childhood was found to have no association with the findings. Other research has suggested that children who consume lots of sugary drinks are more likely to develop asthma.

The new findings were published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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