OK, so let’s start with a caveat: You can’t directly give your child asthma, as in a contagious sense. But increasing research does suggest parental lifestyle choices, particularly by the mother during pregnancy, can impact the odds that a child will develop the condition. Case in point: a study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society that links mom’s sugar / high-fructose corn syrup intake (from soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages) during pregnancy with an increased risk of asthma in their grade-school offspring.

In coming to their conclusion, researchers examined data on eating habits among approximately 1,000 mother-child pairs and information regarding the children’s health, including whether they had received a diagnosis of asthma by ages 7-9. Sure enough, women who drank the most soda and sugary beverages during pregnancy were a whopping 70 percent more likely to have a child diagnosed with asthma. Additionally, women who consumed the most fructose during pregnancy increased their child’s asthma risk by nearly 60 percent. Both percentages were in comparison to women who rarely or never consumed sugary beverages/fructose during pregnancy.

By the way, children who consume too much sugar / sugary beverages during early childhood also have an increased risk of asthma, suggesting mothers’ dietary habits may be “taught” to their children, upping disease risk. The moral: Your children are what you eat (and drink). Talk to your doctor to learn more about healthy eating before, during and after pregnancy – for your sake and the sake of your child.