Sugary binges + pregnancy = increased heart disease risk in babies
While we now know that you can’t actually eat for two when pregnant, being with child is definitely a time most women let their dieting guard down. When pregnancy cravings strike, be it a lump of coal or a bag of doughnuts, there’s a high probability you’re going to give in. However, scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found that binging on sugary and processed foods while pregnant is putting unborn babies at a greater risk of developing heart disease.
The risk is down to the high fructose content found in processed foods and fizzy drinks, which is linked to heart disease.
Led by Antonio Saad, a team of researchers looked at a high-sugar diet in pregnant mice. Half were given water sweetened with 10 per cent fructose, to mimic levels in most soft drinks, and the others plain water for the duration of their pregnancies. Other diet aspects were the same. A year after the new mice were born (considered middle age in mouse years), and after a normal mouse diet and drinking water, the offspring were evaluated.
It was found that the babies born from the sweetened water were more likely to show higher peak glucose levels and higher blood pressure, with the female mice faring the worst as they were heavier and had higher percentages of abdominal fat tissue, liver fat and insulin resistance as well as lower concentrations of leptin - the satiety hormone - than the mice born from the plain water group.
“We found that when the mother has a high intake of fructose in her diet throughout pregnancy, her offspring is more at risk of developing adult obesity, high blood pressure and metabolic dysfunction, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” Antonio said. “This effect is more pronounced in female offspring.
“Limiting intake of high fructose-enriched foods and beverages during pregnancy may have a great impact on the child's future health.”
The findings were published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.