Pregnant women already have an exhaustive list of foods they’re told to limit or avoid. But a new longitudinal study might make that list longer. Time reports that research published in the European Respiratory Journal found a link between higher added sugar intake during pregnancy and a child's risk of allergies and allergic asthma. In the study, 9,000 pregnant women completed a food questionnaire that asked about 43 food groups and items. When their children turned seven, the kids were tested for common allergies like cats and grass and the mothers were asked about their kids' history with asthma. The researchers found that moms ranked in the highest 20% of added sugar intake had children twice as likely to have allergic asthma than moms in the bottom 20%.
According to New Scientist, allergic asthma is the most common form of the respiratory condition and is caused by allergens that bring on breathing problems. The moms eating the most sugar also had kids 38% more likely to test positive for one allergen and 73% more likely for two or more. While the study didn't prove causation, one theory on how added sugar could up the risk of allergies and asthma is that immune reactions to fructose may bring on inflammation in a developing fetus' lungs. “Given the extremely high consumption of sugar in the West, we will certainly be investigating this hypothesis further with some urgency,” the lead researcher says. (Good news for those with peanut allergies: a skin patch may be on the way).