A study recently published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition concluded that daily consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks could be linked to an increase in risk of preterm delivery. Researchers in Denmark analyzed information from 59,334 women from the Danish National Birth Survey (1996-2002). The data was from a food consumption questionnaire taken during the mid-pregnancy phase. Preterm delivery was defined as birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Their research showed a connection between consumption of artificially sweetened carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks and preterm delivery, but no connection for sugar-sweetened carbonated soft drinks, or for sugar-sweetened non-carbonated soft drinks. The risk of preterm delivery connected with the artificially sweetened drinks was greater for early preterm delivery, than for late term delivery.
If the research findings are accurate,”…a woman who drank at least one diet soda daily would have a 17 percent risk, while her risk would be around 22 percent if she drank four or more diet sodas.” Another article interpreted the research on the greater consumption differently: “Women who had at least four diet sodas a day were nearly 80 percent more likely to deliver preterm.”
The researchers also stated that further research needs to be conducted to investigate a potential relationship between artificially sweetened soft drinks and preterm delivery to confirm or disprove their findings.
The Calorie Control Council, which represents over 24 manufacturers of “dietary sweeteners, fat replacers, fibers and other low-calorie ingredients,” says artificial sweeteners are safe for pregnant women. (Their press releases appear to be only promoting artificial sweeteners.) One of their comments about the Danish study was that smoking could be related to the increased risk of preterm delivery found by the research, “… we note that there was a relatively ‘high’ prevalence of smoking during pregnancy and also, women using diet beverages also smoked on a daily basis and this accounted for 12-31 percent of those women.”
Image Credit: Gabi Menashe