Another reason to be careful about what you eat while breastfeeding: new research at the University of Southern California has indicated that a sugar not normally found in breastmilk called fructose can be passed down from mother to baby through breastfeeding.
The study, lead by Dr. Michael Goran, followed 25 mothers and their newly born infants. The researchers found that traces of fructose, an unnatural sugar found in processed foods and soda, can be found in babies whose mothers consume it.
This is particularly concerning given that breastmilk is the gold standard diet for babies, and that exposure to high levels of sugar in infants can lead to cognitive development problems, and a lifelong risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. These effects can come in play even if a ‘grain of rice’ sized serving of fructose (10 milligrams) is found in the mother’s breast milk.
Additionally, small amount of fructose can have detrimental effects on a baby’s metabolism, and turn pre-fat storage cells to fat storage cells, promoting the risk of overweight and obesity.
“We know very little about why some children eventually become overweight or obese. It’s important that we study what may be taking place in the earliest times of their development to determine whether anything could be done just after birth to lower their risks. Other studies have shown that fructose and artificial sweeteners are particularly damaging during critical periods of growth and development in children. We are beginning to see that any amount of fructose in breast milk is risky,” says Goran.