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Maternal sugar consumption, particularly from sugar-sweetened beverages, was associated with poorer childhood cognition including non-verbal abilities to solve novel problems, poorer verbal memory, poorer fine motor, and poorer visual-spatial/visual-motor abilities in childhood.

The study also found that substituting diet soda for sugar-sweetened soda during pregnancy was also linked to negative effects. However, children’s fruit consumption (but not fruit juice) had beneficial effects and was associated with higher cognitive scores.

As with any observational study, it is difficult to establish causation. However, the data was adjusted for a variety of other health and socioeconomic factors which does strengthen the data.

Here is the long list of the health/lifestyle factors that the data were adjusted for: maternal age, pre-pregnancy BMI, parity, education, smoking status during pregnancy, maternal prenatal fish intake (the mean of the first and second trimesters), household income at enrollment, and the child’s sex and race/ethnicity,child’s birth weight, maternal marital status, intelligence, depression during pregnancy, pre-pregnancy physical activity levels, Western or prudent dietary pattern (calculated without fruits and sugar beverages), breastfeeding duration, paternal age and education, and HOME-SF score.

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