Sugary Drinks: A Surprising Risk Factor for Childhood Asthma


Children between ages 7 and 9 are at increased risk for developing asthma if they consumed a high amount of sugary foods when they were younger, or if their mothers drank a high number of sugar-sweetened beverages while they were pregnant. Those are findings from researchers at the Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston whose research was recently published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Mothers and children from Project Viva, a longitudinal study conducted in Massachusetts were involved in this research – 1,068 mother-child pairs in all. The goal of the study was to develop new ways to improve the health of mothers and children. Mothers completed questionnaires about their own food and beverage consumption after their first and second trimesters, and about their children’s food and beverage consumption at 3.3 years of age. The researchers then used this information to compute intake of fructose, the sugar found in sweetened drinks and high-sugar foods.

At mid-childhood, 19 percent of the children in the study had asthma, according to researchers. Children of moms who consumed the most sugary foods and drinks during pregnancy were 61 to 63 percent more likely to have asthma than those of mothers who consumed the least amount of sugar. Children whose intake of sugary foods and drinks was highest when they were younger were 64 percent more likely to have asthma than those who consumed the least amount of sugar.

Sourced from: American Thoracic Society