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BSI response to paper linking maternal sugar consumption in pregnancy and allergy in offspring

Pollen grains6 July 2017

A paper published today in the European Respiratory Journal has reported an association between maternal consumption of free sugar during pregnancy and the occurance of allergy and allergic asthma in the children at age 7.  In response to this study, the British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement:

Dr Sheena Cruickshank, British Society for Immunology spokesperson and Senior Lecturer in Immunology, University of Manchester said:

“This study represents a lot of work on a large dataset. The paper reports a small association between maternal free sugar intake during pregnancy and the occurrence of allergy or allergic asthma in the children at 7 years of age. From these findings, it is unclear how strong this effect is.  These results also only show an association between allergy and high maternal sugar intake during pregnancy; more studies will be needed to work out if there is any causation in this relationship.

“Atopic diseases, such as allergy and asthma, are complex and associated with many genetic and environmental effects, including the microbes and pollutants we are exposed to.  Several studies have also suggested the microbiome (the community of microbes that live in and on us) is altered in allergy and it is well established that the child's microbiome is influenced by how a baby is delivered, the type of milk the baby is fed as well as their diet as they grow older and thus there may be indirect effects via the microbiota.  Future studies should look to take these variables into account so we can understand the full relationship between maternal diet during pregnancy and allergic disease in the offspring."

The full study that this comment is in response to can be found at: Bédard et al. 2017 Maternal intake of sugar during pregnancy and childhood respiratory and atopic outcomes. European Respiratory Journal 50 doi: 10.1183/13993003.00073-2017