So we all know too much of the sweet stuff does us no favours health-wise (psychologically, it’s the ultimate salve); but according to new research, a saccharine addiction messes with more than just our bodies – our unborn babies can reap the effects, too.
A study published in the European Respiratory Journal has revealed a potential increased risk for allergies or allergic asthma in those babies born to mothers who consumed excessive sugar during pregnancy.
Analysing data from around 9,000 mothers and their offspring, researchers measured maternal sugar intake against typical allergy markers – eczema, hay fever, wheezing, and diagnosed asthma, in the children.
After accounting for possible attributing factors such as the child’s sugar intake and the mother’s own allergy and asthmatic history, the researchers still concluded a connection between prenatal sugar consumption and children’s health.
The research team do however emphasise that the findings are from only one observation – as with any study, the results require replication.
“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,” says researcher Seif Shaheen. “The team speculate that the associations may be explained by a high maternal intake of fructose causing a persistent postnatal allergic immune response leading to allergic inflammation in the developing lung.”
The researchers may have more work to do, but it’s still better to reign in the unhealthy cravings in the interim – or at least tone them down; a healthier mummy – plus a little chocolate – makes a much happier one, anyway.