Pregnant women whose diet is high in fructose could be setting their babies up for high blood pressure and obesity later in life. This finding comes from a study in mice by researchers at the University of Texas, Medical Branch, Galveston. They provided pregnant mice a solution of either fructose or water as their only drink from their first day of pregnancy through delivery. All of the baby mice were given standard mouse meals and their health was evaluated when they were one year old. The researchers found that both the male and female mice whose mothers drank the fructose solution had higher peak glucose levels compared to the offspring of the mother mice who drank only water during pregnancy. The female mice born to moms in the fructose group were heavier, had more abdominal fat and more fat in their livers than the females whose mothers drank water. These differences weren’t observed in the males from the fructose group. While this study was done in mice, lead researcher Antonio Saad, M.D. commented that the results show that consuming a high fructose diet during pregnancy puts offspring at risk for obesity and the many health problems it can cause.
My take? These are very interesting findings, even if conducted in animals. It wouldn’t be ethical or desirable to perform the same study with pregnant women to see what effects a high fructose diet might have on the health of their children. However, we already know that the body doesn’t utilize fructose well, and I am especially concerned about the potentially disruptive effects of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the main sweetener used in beverages and in a wide variety of processed foods. Some evidence suggests fructose may disturb liver function. It also may elevate triglycerides in men, increasing the risk of heart disease. The vulnerability of a developing child adds another layer of concern. I don’t think fructose or high fructose corn syrup is good for anyone, pregnant or not.