• Pregnancy

Why Too Much Sugar is Bad for The Developing Baby

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  • Pregnancy

“This is the only time you can eat whatever you want!”, said just about everyone to pregnant women. 

Mothers-to-be often believe that pregnancy gives them a free pass to eat anything they want. With a baby growing inside them and cravings every hour, who would blame them?

However, it’s important for pregnant women to know that during pregnancy, it’s even more important that they eat healthy, for their own sake and for the baby’s. One of the ingredients consumed in high amounts during this time is added sugars. Study shows Studies show that most pregnant women regularly consume sugary desserts during their pregnancies , without fully understanding the effects of their diet.


There are also harmful health risks associated with excessive sugar intake, such as excessive weight gain which is most commonly-known, developing high blood sugar and high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) during pregnancy.


Eat plenty of seafood that gives you omega-3 (good) fats such as salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, lake trout, tilapia, catfish, crab, pollack, and scallops. Get up 12 ounces from any of these seafood per week.

During pregnancy, what you eat doesn’t just affect you but also your developing baby. Short term risks include pre-term birth and an overweight foetus, resulting in birth difficulties. A mother’s pregnancy diet can also affect her child in the long term as well; a diet high in sugar may can lead to the child developing a sweet tooth, and an increased risk to a pre-cursor to childhood obesity.

Apart from the more physical risks, a high-sugar and high-fat diet during pregnancy may result in long-lasting effects in the child, including mental health and behavioural disorders. Other risks include developing childhood allergic asthma.


While we should always avoid excessive sugar consumption, it’s important to take note of the different types of sugars: natural sugars are found in whole, unprocessed foods like fruit, vegetables, dairy and grains, while added sugars are sugars and syrup that are added to foods and drinks when they are processed or prepared, including the sugar we use at home to cook with. Added sugars come in a variety of different names:

- Brown Sugar

- Corn Syrup Solid

- Dextrose

- Fructose

- Glucose

- Glucose Syrup Solid

- Maltose

- Maltodextrin

- White Sugar

Added sugars provide little to no nutritional value, which is why we should keep our consumption to a minimum: according to nutritional guidelines by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Malaysia Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI), the daily added sugars intake should not be more than 10% of our total energy intake, about 9-12 teaspoons of added sugars per day for pregnant women. 

It’s therefore important for pregnant mums to monitor their diet and sugar intake, to ensure they provide the best not only for themselves, but for their developing baby and the future ahead of him or her.


(1) ‘Consumption habits of pregnant women and implications for developmental biology’, US National Library of Medicine (Jul 2013): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3704911/

(2) Ley et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011; 94: 1232-1240. 

(3) Borgen et al. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 66:920-925.

(4) Englund-Ogge et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012). 96; 552-559.

(5) Phelan S et al. Experimental Diabetes Research (2011). 985139:1-9.

(6) Chen et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2017). 105; 705-713.

(7) Brekke et al. British Journal of Nutrition (2007). 97: 176-181.

(8) ‘Unhealthy Diet During Pregnancy Could Lead to ADHD’, The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Aug 2016): http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2016/august/unhealthy-diet.html

(9) ‘Maternal intake of sugar during pregnancy and childhood respiratory and atopic outcomes’, European Respiratory Journal 2017: http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/50/1/1700073