December 22, 2017
2 min read

Maternal sugary drink intake raises asthma risk in offspring

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Children are more likely to develop asthma in midchildhood if they consumed high levels of fructose in early childhood or if their mothers consumed high levels of sugar sweetened beverages or fructose during pregnancy, according to findings published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

“Previous studies have linked intake of high fructose corn syrup sweetened beverages with asthma in school children, but there is little information about when during early development exposure to fructose might influence later health,” Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, MPH, of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, said in a press release.

Rifas-Shiman and colleagues performed a multivariable analysis to determine if maternal prenatal and early childhood intake of sugar-sweetened beverages with fructose prompts current asthma in midchildhood. The researchers enrolled 1,068 mother-child pairs from Project Viva, a prospective prebirth cohort.

They assessed data from semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires that described maternal and child intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, juice and total fructose. Mothers completed the questionnaires at mean gestational ages of 11.9 and 29.2 weeks and in early childhood (median, 3.3 years).

The researchers then examined the association of maternal and child dietary intake with current asthma risk at midchildhood (median, 7.7 years), which was confirmed via mother-completed questionnaires that reported doctor-diagnosed asthma and asthma medication use or wheezing in the past 12 months.

Women with a younger maternal age, who were nonwhite, had a lower education and income and had a higher prepregnancy BMI were more likely to have high intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages during pregnancy (mean, 0.6 servings per day; range 0-5), the researchers found.

Data indicated that after adjusting for prepregnancy BMI, age, race/ethnicity and other covariates, mothers in the highest quartile of sugar-sweetened beverage (2 servings per day) and fructose intake (46 g per day) had 63% and 61% increased odds, respectively, of having children with asthma in midchildhood, compared with those in the lowest quartiles of sugar-sweetened beverage (0 servings per day) and fructose intake (21 g per day).

Additionally, after adjusting for maternal sugar-sweetened beverages and midchildhood BMI, children in the highest quartile of fructose consumption (44 g per day) had 64% increased odds of having asthma in midchildhood, compared with those in the lowest quartile of fructose consumption (15 g per day).

Overall, 19% of children had asthma in midchildhood.

“Avoiding high intake of sugary beverages during pregnancy and in early childhood could be one of several ways to reduce the risk of childhood asthma,” Rifas-Shiman said. – by Alaina Tedesco

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.