Another reason to cut back on soda and highly processed foods. Research in mice and women showed that a high-fructose diet during pregnancy may cause defects in the placenta and restrict fetal growth. But the advice in the article was disturbing - rather than giving a drug (allopurinol) to pregnant women with high fructose levels (which is what the researchers suggest), why not focus on giving them nutrition advice and strongly encourage them to avoid or cut back on high fructose products? Especially foods containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), such as soda and highly processed desserts.
Nutrition and why it's important should be discussed extensively with pregnant women, starting with the first prenatal care visit. Good advice is to read food labels and avoid products that list fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, or corn syrup solids. One easy first step would be to stop drinking soda and sweet drinks and juices. The researchers admit: "One of the best ways to ensure healthy maternal and fetal outcomes is by eating natural foods." Natural foods and good nutrition, not drugs, should be the focus. From Science Daily:
Consuming a high-fructose diet during pregnancy may cause defects in the placenta and restrict fetal growth, potentially increasing a baby's risk for metabolic health problems later in life, according to research in mice and people by a team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
However, giving the mice allopurinol, a generic drug frequently prescribed to treat gout and kidney stones, appears to mitigate the negative maternal and fetal effects. The findings suggest it may be possible to devise a prenatal screening test and treatment plan for pregnant women with high fructose levels. The study is available online in Scientific Reports, a journal affiliated with Nature Publishing Group.
Fructose, a sugar occurring naturally in fruits and honey, has been popular for decades among food manufacturers who process it into high-fructose corn syrup used to sweeten food and beverages. In fact, researchers have reported that the refined sugar accounts for more than half of all sweeteners used in the U.S. food-supply chain. And in recent years, there's growing concern that fructose in processed foods and sugary drinks may be linked to diabetes and obesity. "Since the early 1970s, we've been eating more fructose than we should," said Kelle H. Moley, MD,.....This study shows potentially negative effects of a high-fructose diet during pregnancy."
Fructose is processed differently than other sugars such as glucose, which the body converts into energy. Instead, fructose is broken down by liver cells that turn the sugar into a form of fat known as triglycerides while also driving high levels of uric acid, a normal waste product found in urine and stool. Too much uric acid can create metabolic mayhem resulting in obesity, type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.
Studying mice, the researchers found elevated uric acid and triglycerides in otherwise healthy mice who were fed a high-fructose diet during pregnancy. Additionally, the mice developed smaller fetuses and larger placentas than those fed standard rodent chow.
Maternal health also may suffer. Metabolic problems caused by high levels of uric acid and fat increase a woman's risk of developing pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia -- a potentially serious condition in pregnancy often marked by high blood pressure, swelling and high protein levels in the urine -- and gestational diabetes, Moley said.
To assess the relevance of the mouse data in pregnant women, the researchers examined the association between fructose and placental uric acid levels in a small controlled group of 18 women who underwent scheduled cesarean sections. The women had no disorders that would have caused elevated uric acid. "We found a correlation suggesting similar maternal and fetal effects occur in humans," Moley said.