Node Smith, ND

The American Thoracic Society recently concluded in a study that children who consume large amounts of sugary beverages in early childhood, or their mothers drank these types of drinks while pregnant, may be at greater risk for developing asthma.1Asthma is an increasingly common respiratory condition marked by a constriction of the bronchioles and subsequent wheezing and breathlessness. It can develop into a chronic and life altering condition if underlying causes are not addressed.

Naturopathic Medicine Responds Well to Childhood Asthma

Naturopathic medicine has a great track record treating childhood asthma, and the elimination of inflammatory and allergenic foods is a foundational component of this success. Sugary drinks would certainly fall into this category, and it is not surprising that this conventional research study is validating what natural practitioners have known for years.

Study Looked at 1,068 Mother-Child Pairs

The research study looked at 1,068 mother-child pairs. The study was designed to find ways to improve family health. Previous studies have looked at the link of high fructose corn syrup and asthma in school children, however, there has been little research specifically linking these beverages to younger childhood asthma.

Mothers consuming sugary drinks during pregnancy were 63 percent more likely to have children with asthma

Mothers in their first and second trimester participating in the study completed questionnaires regarding food and beverage consumption. When their children were in early childhood (average age of 3), the mothers completed another questionnaire on food and beverage consumption. The study found that overall 19 percent of children developed asthma. Mothers in the highest quartile of sugary beverage consumption during pregnancy were 63 percent more likely to have children with asthma. These findings held true when adjusted for pre-pregnancy body mass, age, race/ethnicity and other factors that may have impacted results. This same correlation held true with kids in the highest quartile of sugary beverage consumption – they were 64 percent more likely than the lowest quartile to develop mid-childhood asthma.

The researchers did comment that there are other factors that sugary drinks impact, which also correlate to asthma, such as obesity, and increase inflammation in the lungs.


  1. Wright LS, Rifas-shiman SL, Oken E, Litonjua AA, Gold DR. Prenatal and Early-Life Fructose, Fructose-Containing Beverages, and Mid-Childhood Asthma. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2017
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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