Pregnant women who consume just two fizzy drinks a day could be increasing their child's risk of becoming obese, new research suggests.
Having at least two sugary drinks a day during a woman's second trimester increases a child's BMI and waist circumference at seven years old, a study found.
Every additional sugary drink that a woman consumes during this stage of her pregnancy adds an extra 0.15 kg/m2 fat mass to her child, new research reveals.
Fruit juice, diet drinks and water do not have the same effect, the study found.
Study author Sheryl Rifas-Shiman from Harvard University, said: 'Childhood obesity is widespread and hard to treat. So it’s important to identify modifiable factors that occur prenatally and during infancy so prevention can start early.'
How the study was carried out
Researchers from Harvard University analyzed 1,078 mother-child pairs.
The mothers were visited at the end of their first and second trimesters.
Questionnaires of their sugary and non-sugary drink intake were completed during this time.
Both the mothers and their child were visited during the first few days after birth and approximately six months, three years and seven years later.
The children's height and weight was measured at approximately seven years old.
Results revealed that drinking at least two sugary drinks a day during a woman's second trimester increases a child's BMI and waist circumference.
Every additional sugary drink a woman consumes in her second trimester is associated with an extra 0.15 kg/m2 fat mass in her child.
Consuming fruit juice, diet drinks and water or sugary drinks in the first trimester has no effect.
The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.
Why did these results occur?
Children whose mothers drank sugary drinks during their pregnancy may have more of these beverages available to them during their childhood, resulting in weight gain, the researchers speculate.
Alternatively, children may inherit a preference for such drinks from their mothers or they could develop a 'taste' for sugary beverages if they were consumed during their gestation.
What the experts say
Ms Rifas-Shiman said: 'Childhood obesity is widespread and hard to treat. So it’s important to identify modifiable factors that occur prenatally and during infancy so prevention can start early.'
Sian Robinson from the University of Southampton, who was not involved in the study, added: 'I was struck that the differences in children’s body composition were seen in relation to intake levels that appear unremarkable.
'We need to know more about the long-term effects of maternal nutrition on offspring health.
'This new data suggests mothers’ consumption is important and has public health relevance.'
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