Artificial Sweetener and Pregnancy

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the increasing consumption of artificial sweeteners in the diets of Western populations. In particular, consumption of artificial sweetener in soft drinks is popular because of the association between weight gain and sugar sweetened soft drinks. Governmental regulators generally consider aspartame, asulfame-K and saccharine safe in the concentrations present in the normal diet, but controversy continues to surround their use. The adverse reactions such as headaches and seizures reported with the use of some artificial sweeteners appears to be the result of hypersensitivity amongst a small sub-group of the population. Because the safety of artificial sweeteners is still disputed, it is of particular importance to assure that there are no adverse reactions in vulnerable individuals such as pregnant women. Amazingly, few studies have investigated the effects of artificial sweeteners on pregnancy.

In 2010 researcher1 investigated the effects of sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks on preterm delivery in pregnant women. The cohort analysis involved estimation of the soft drink consumption of 59,334 women from Denmark using frequent food questionnaires, mid pregnancy. The primary outcome was delivery in less than 37 weeks which was assessed through medical records. The results showed that there was an increased risk of preterm delivery with consumption of artificially carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks for both overweight and normal weight women. The odds ratio for women who consumed more than 4 artificially sweetened soft drinks per day was 1,78, but this dropped to 1.38 for those who consumed one or fewer drinks per day. No associations between sugar sweetened drinks and preterm delivery was observed. These results suggest that daily intakes of artificially sweetened soft drinks can adversely affect pregnancy.


1Halldorsson, T. I., Strom, M., Peterson, S. B. and Olsen, S. F. 2010. Intake of artificially sweetened drinks and risk of preterm delivery: a prospective cohort study in 59,334 Danish pregnant women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 92: 626-633

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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