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Sugar during pregnancy and allergies in the child

  1. The intake of free sugars in mothers during pregnancy could possibly increase the risk of allergies and allergic asthma in the offspring according to the study by B�dard et al (2017). How high are these chances and is there a big difference between a high sugar intake and a lower sugar intake? What are the possible mechanisms underlying this?

High sugar intake in children

  1. Studies have shown an association between a high intake of sugary drinks in children and asthma in children. Studies have also shown that a higher sugar intake is associated with a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Especially in Western countries, there is a high sugar consumption and there are many allergies and allergic asthma in children. There may also be a relationship between a high sugar intake in the mother and the risk of allergies and allergic asthma in the offspring.


  1. A study by the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) by Bédard et al. (2017) with nearly 9,000 mother-child couples shows that high maternal sugar intake during pregnancy is also associated with is with an increased risk of allergies and allergic asthma in children. These are free sugars. Free sugars are all monosaccharides and disaccharides added by the manufacturer and the sugars contained in honey, unsweetened fruit juices and syrups. It does not concern lactose in milk or natural sugars in the cellular structure of food (such as fruit and vegetables). The research was conducted with data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). These are mothers who were pregnant in the 1990s. Since then, the children of these mothers have been followed.

Free sugar intake during pregnancy and allergies in the offspring

  1. This study examined whether there was a relationship between the maternal (maternal) intake of free sugars during pregnancy and the occurrence of allergies and asthma in the offspring at the age of seven. There was an allergy if there was a positive skin test for the most common allergens, such as dust mites, cats and pollen. This study corrected for confounders such as other aspects of the maternal diet related to childhood asthma and allergies.

High sugar intake compared to low sugar intake

  1. When the degree of sugar intake is compared, there is a big difference between a high sugar intake and a low sugar intake. The women who were in the top 20% in sugar intake had a 38% higher chance of having offspring with allergies compared to the bottom 20%. This risk was even 101% higher for allergic asthma. No research has been conducted to determine whether the risk of allergies and allergic asthma also decreases as sugar intake is reduced during pregnancy. The link between the mother's high sugar intake during pregnancy and allergies and allergic asthma in children is therefore still an assumption.

Pathophysiological mechanisms

  1. Fructose The mechanism underlying the positive association between maternal free sugar intake and childhood allergies and allergic asthma is likely high maternal fructose consumption. Fructose is an important component of added sugars. For example, fructose can be found in fruit juices such as orange juice and in sweet drinks such as added sucrose or isolated fructose.

Gut flora

  1. It is also possible that fructose affects the intestinal flora of the fetus, causing an allergic (atopic) immune response. That this effect on the airways has already been shown in models with mice. Thus, high maternal fructose intake may also result in a long-term sustained immune response with Type 2 T helper cells and allergic inflammation in the developing lung of the fetus.

Fructose and the placenta

  1. Because fructose causes an increase in uric acid and triglycerides in the placenta, a high intake of fructose can also lead to a larger placenta and a smaller fetus according to the study by Ashgar et al. (2016) using mice. The fructose itself also ensures new production of uric acid in the placenta itself. Because the babies often have catch-up growth after birth, this more often leads to obesity in the children.

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