Diet Soda: Unfolding effect on pregnancy and child birth

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When you’re pregnant, it’s important to make healthy choices as much as possible and to avoid things that have the potential to harm you or your baby. There are a great number of things that can cause harm to you or your growing baby during pregnancy. But then there’s a large category of things that fall into the grey area, that are neither beneficial nor particularly harmful. In the gray area,  falls the Diet Coke.

Diet Soda

When you opt for diet coke as a drink choice during pregnancy, think on the three aspects:

  • Diet Coke has no nutritional value. Neither does any other soda. This means that you’re taking in fluid that isn’t particularly beneficial for your body or your baby. That effort could be better spent by drinking a more beneficial beverage, like water or milk. So on the nutritional front, Diet Coke is safe, but not a good choice.
  • Beverages containing caffeine are generally considered safe in limited amounts(200 mg per day) during pregnancy. However, these beverages can have a dehydrating effect, so you need to be sure to include extra liquids if you do consume caffeine. You can, of course, opt for caffeine-free Diet Coke.
  • Finally, there’s the matter of the artificial sweeteners. Everyone knows the dangers of too much sugar. There are individuals for whom the ingestion of artificial sweeteners causes significant discomfort, including headaches and other symptoms that indicate an intolerance for these products. If you fall into this category, you should definitely avoid Diet Coke or any other product made with artificial sweeteners during your pregnancy.

There are several types of artificial sweeteners you may see on nutrition labels:

  • Aspartame (NutraSweet): Seems to be okay when consumed in moderation (the amount found in one or two 12-ounce servings of soda per day).
  • Saccharin (Sweet’n Low): Saccharin was found to cause birth defects in laboratory rats when consumed in very high amounts.
  • Sucralose (Splenda): This relatively new sweetener, a modified form of regular table sugar, appears to be safe. But because it hasn’t been extensively studied, it’s best used in moderation.

Diet Coke and Child Birth

New study is suggesting there is a link between premature births and regular consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks. The study, which was commissioned in Denmark, looked at 60,000 pregnant women and their resulting births and studied their consumption of diet soft drinks.

They found that women who had a higher intake of diet soda had a significantly higher risk of delivering their babies preterm (before 37 weeks’ gestation). The increased risk was calculated around 38% higher in women who had one diet soda per day in comparison to women who had none at all.

Diet Soda

Even more alarming, they found that women who had four or more diet sodas per day had an 80% higher risk of giving birth prematurely than their diet soda free counterparts.

Why the diet drinks, especially, were linked with early delivery is not known, but the researchers speculate that the link may be driven by high blood pressure disorders in pregnancy. They note that other studies have found a link between soft drinks and high blood pressure in non-pregnant women.

In the end study suggests that pregnant women should focus on water, juices and milk as healthy beverage option.

Note: The study is published in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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