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Soft drinks play role in asthma development

09 Nov 2019

Drinking soft drinks may be linked to asthma in adults and wheeze in children, according to a meta-analysis. Furthermore, prenatal maternal consumption of the drink can promote the development of inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs in the offspring.

Researchers searched multiple online databases for studies examining the association between soft drinks consumption (including maternal consumption during pregnancy) and asthma or wheeze. A total of 19 studies were included in the systematic review and 18 in the meta-analyses.

Of the studies included (three cohort and 16 cross-sectional studies), 12 reported on childhood exposure to soft drinks, six on adulthood exposure and two on maternal consumption. Six studies were conducted in Europe, six in the USA, four in Asia, and one each in Brazil, New Zealand and Australia. There were 468,836 participants in total—among whom 236,932 were children, 170,385 were adults and 61,519 were pregnant women—with >50,000 cases of asthma.

Pooled data showed that soft drinks consumption was associated with an increased likelihood of asthma in both adults (odds ratio [OR], 1.37, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.23–1.52) and children (OR, 1.14, 95 percent CI, 1.06–1.21).

Moreover, prenatal exposure showed a marginal association with asthma in children (OR, 1.11, 95 percent CI, 1.00–1.23).

In a subgroup analysis evaluating childhood exposure, the association with asthma persisted for sugar-sweetened soft drinks but not for carbonated drinks.

The findings underscore a need for additional longitudinal research to shed light on the relationship between soft drinks and asthma and mechanisms of action. The researchers called for continued initiation and support of measures to cut the consumption of soft drinks, especially given the other health effect associated with soft drinks, including obesity and dental caries.

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