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Pregnant? Another Reason To Avoid Fructose

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. 

Pregnancy: Eating for Two Not a Good Idea

Gaining some weight during pregnancy is healthy, but a new study shows that one-third of new mothers whose weight was normal before pregnancy were overweight or obese a year after childbirth. The investigators from the University of Chicago drew on data from 774 low-income women. The participants were interviewed three times in the year following childbirth, and the women's height and weight were measured at six and 12 months after delivery. The researchers reported that their study participants gained an average of 32 pounds during pregnancy and that about 75 percent of the women remained heavier a year after their babies were born than they were before pregnancy. When interviewed a year after their babies were born, 47 percent of the women still weighed at least 10 pounds more than they did pre-pregnancy. Experts note that breastfeeding and moderate exercise can help with weight loss after pregnancy. Study leader Loraine K. Endres, M.D., made the point that "eating for two" should not be interpreted to mean doubling caloric intake. She said that pregnant women should consume only 300 to 400 extra calories per day as long as they're expecting only one baby.