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Artificial Sweeteners In Pregnancy

Originally written and published by Dr. Bernstien in May 2015

Calm down everyone… please.   Our phone nurses really should be answering emergency calls and not giving advice on how many packets of Sweet ‘N Low is acceptable in a day.  Enjoying most of the things you normally consume outside of the pregnancy state (you all know the exceptions) is considered safe. 

The rule for almost anything is normal use, or “use in moderation”, is going to be safe.  There is currently no medical evidence to suggest that Nutrasweet, Sweet ‘N Low, Stevia, Splenda, Sunnet, etc. increase the risk of birth defects beyond the baseline risk in the general population. 

Some of you eager “Google-ers” are going to find some information on Sweet ‘N Low (saccharin) and Nutrasweet (aspartame) that will make you want to question this blog post.  There was one study in rats (yes rats, not humans) where high doses (yes high dose, not normal daily amounts) of saccharin led to increased bladder cancer in the rats’ offspring.  These results, however, were never reproduced in subsequent studies.  A little Sweet ‘N Low in your daily consumption should not worry you.  If this scares you, then use one of the alternatives.  The American Academy of Pediatrics, the FDA, and the American Medical Association have all stated that aspartame is safe for pregnant mothers, developing fetuses, and breast feeding. 

Interestingly, online you can find data on “Acceptable Daily Intake” or ADI for different artificial sweeteners.  This is an amount of food additive that can be ingested daily for a lifetime without substantial health risk.  My vice is diet soda.  For my weight, if I consume fewer than 24 of the 12-ounce size diet sodas in a day, I am BELOW the ADI.  I feel pretty good now about the 2 to 4 I have on most days. 

Thus, for those pregnant and breastfeeding women out there who like to enjoy a couple of diet beverages or serving of artificial sweeteners… please do just that… Enjoy! 

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Update 07/2016

There is a new study from JAMA-Peds that concludes that consumption of artificial sweeteners in pregnancy MAY increase risk of BMI of the infant.  It seems to be a nominal 0.2 change in BMI.  As above, moderation is still acceptable.

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