Eating Sugar During Pregnancy is Linked to Asthma in Babies

We all know that sugar is not the greatest thing we can include in our diets. However delicious it may be (and I'm a self-professed sugaraholic, let's be clear) sugar is just not great for our bodies, especially in the form of things like cookies, cake, or candy. There is evidence that sugar does things like clog up our blood vessels, slow down repair systems in our body, and promote excess weight gain. Bottom line? Too much sugar is a bad thing.

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And unfortunately, a new study is pointing out sugar during pregnancy can be dangerous, especially for families who may be prone to asthma. 

sugar during pregnancy
Image via Unsplash/ Jess Watters

The study, from the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, was conducted by Harvard researchers and looked at 1,068 women who had already had children from Eastern Massachusetts. The researchers spoke to the mothers to discover what their diets had been like during their pregnancies, mostly on the 1st and 2nd trimesters. Then they checked their children's diets and health statuses when the kids were three and seven years old. 

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They found that the children of mothers who took in more sugar during their pregnancies had a much higher risk of asthma. For example, the women who ate the most sugar during pregnancy, around 46 grams per day, had children with a 58 percent higher risk of asthma. That's quite a considerably higher risk! And just to put that amount in perspective, a typical 12-ounce can of soda has around 40 grams of sugar, so it might not even seem like that much sugar. The women who had the lowest amount of sugar typically had an average of 21 grams per day. 

Although the study initially found that women who had a lot of sugar during pregnancy were also more likely to be younger in age and have higher BMIs, researchers controlled for those factors and found that an association still existed between sugar during pregnancy. 

In the study, the women who were consuming the most amount of sugar typically received the sugar from sweetened drinks, like soda and fruit juice. The main source of the sugar? High-fructose corn syrup, everyone's favorite enemy. Researchers also noted that it's important to reduce excess sugar in children, especially during the early years of life, as previous studies have found an association between high levels of sugar in childhood to negative health outcomes, including asthma. Their recommendations were that pregnant women and mothers of young children should know the health implications of excess sugar. 

So overall, what does this study mean for you? Well, it's not exactly earth-shattering news that drinking or eating tons of sugar might be bad for your body. But if you are pregnant or planning to be pregnant and have a family history of asthma or a child who already has asthma, it might be helpful for you to be aware of the possible connection between sugar and asthma. Consider taking a look at your diet to see if you are consuming excess sugar, especially in the form or sugary drinks or soda, and eliminating those sources of sugar. You could try flavoring water with fruit, like lemon slices, or swapping soda for sparkling water. 


The bottom line is that reducing sugar intake during pregnancy is always a good idea. And it might be especially important for mothers of children at risk for asthma. Skip the soda and sugary drinks and if you have to have your sugar fix, aim for fresh fruit to indulge those sweet cravings instead. 

What do you think?

Eating Sugar During Pregnancy is Linked to Asthma in Babies

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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1 comment

  1. AmeriBev says:

    America’s leading beverage companies provide Americans with a wide range of beverage choices, including many with less sugar or no sugar at all. This study, however, does not prove that drinking beverages with sugar in any way causes asthma.

    We’ve been broadening beverage choices dramatically through innovations like lower calorie sodas, teas, sports drinks, flavored waters, enhanced waters and premium waters. We’ve developed mid-calorie versions of longtime favorites; we created mini-cans. The beverage aisle looks much different today than just 10 years ago. We are committed to being part of real solutions to public health challenges with initiatives like Balance Calories – an initiative to reduce the calories Americans consume from beverages nationally by 20 percent by 2025.


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