Drinking sugary beverages when breastfeeding may lead to poor cognitive development in kids

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — For expecting mothers, a healthy diet and lifestyle can make a big impact on their child’s development. A new study finds what a mom eats and drinks after the delivery can be just as important. Researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles say drinking sugary beverages can affect the milk of breastfeeding parents. This can result in poor mental development for children which lasts for years.

The study says there are plenty of risks which come with a diet high in sugar. Those include weight gain, higher chances for type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease.

Dr. Michael Goran, program director for Diabetes and Obesity at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, is studying how sugar can impact an entire family’s health. In previous studies, Goran revealed that mothers consuming sugary drinks after pregnancy are more likely to gain excess weight. This report also found that breastmilk can expose newborns to this sugar as well.

‘Breastfeeding can have so many benefits’

The new report studies how this exposure negatively impacts the growth of the baby, even two years after birth. Study authors examined 88 mothers who reported their sugary beverage intake during the first month of breastfeeding.

At the age of two, the children’s mental abilities were assessed using the Bayley-III Scales of Infant Development. This scale looks at motor skills, cognitive and language development, and social-emotional and adaptive behaviors. The results find children who score lower on the exam have mothers who reported consuming more sugary beverages right after birth.

“Breastfeeding can have so many benefits,” Dr. Goran says in media release, “but we’re seeing that breast milk is influenced by what moms eat and drink even more than we realized.”

Pregnancy is just the beginning for moms

Goran adds avoiding excess sugar intake, like soft drinks, can benefit both the mother and her child’s health. Aside from dieting, a previous study has also found that exercise can enhance the quality of breastmilk.

“Moms may not realize that what they eat and drink during breastfeeding may influence their infant’s development down the road, but that’s what our results indicate.”

“Ultimately, we want babies to receive the best quality nutrition,” study first author Paige K. Berger says. “Our findings may be used to guide future nutrition recommendations for moms during breastfeeding, to better ensure that babies are getting the right building blocks for cognitive development.”

The study appears in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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