Consumption of artificial sweeteners during pregnancy can lead to heavier babies, according to new research.
Pregnant women who consume drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners are more likely to have heavier babies and children that will be overweight by the age of one, according to a new study just released, and cited on usnews.com.
Study author Meghan Azad, a research scientist at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, said she defined an overweight baby as one that weight more than 97 percent of the other infants with the same height and age.
Azad stated, “”Infants born to women who regularly consumed one or more artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy were twice as likely to be overweight by 1 year of age. ”
She adds, “Given the current epidemic of childhood obesity and widespread use of artificial sweeteners, further research is warranted to confirm our findings and investigate the underlying biological mechanisms. Ultimately, this research could help improve dietary recommendations for pregnant women.”
During the research, Azad and her colleagues examined the data from over 3,000 mothers and their children, focusing on what drinks they consumed during their pregnancies. Approximately 30 percent said they used artificially sweetened beverages, with five percent reporting they consumed such beverages every day.
Azad said this was the first study that looked at the possibility of weight gain in infants by consuming artificial sweeteners during pregnancy. She also pointed out the research did not find any association between sugar-sweetened drinks and the weight of the infants.
She cautioned the study did not prove that artificial sweeteners caused infant weight gain, but advised that “caution is warranted” with the consumption of these types of beverages.
Robert Rankin, of The Calorie Control Council, said in a statement defending the use of artificial sweeteners, “Before a low-calorie sweetener may be used in foods or beverages, it must be determined by relevant regulatory bodies to be safe for all populations, including special groups such as the elderly, children, and pregnant and nursing women. These safety assessments include an evaluation of possible effects of low-calorie sweeteners during pregnancy and [they] continue to show that these sweeteners are safe for pregnant women and their children.”
Rankin also added the use of artificial sweeteners can help pregnant women consume fewer calories during pregnancy and avoid weight gain that can be harmful to both the mother and the child.
Findings from the study were published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.