A new research study, which included nearly 60,000 pregnant women in Denmark, found that those who drink artificially sweetened beverages (carbonated or not) were more likely to have a premature birth. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1
The researchers found that one serving per day of artificially sweetened, carbonated drinks were 38% more likely to give birth before 37 weeks of gestation (1.38 AOR). Those who consumed four servings of these drinks were 78% more likely to have a premature delivery (1.78 AOR).
Dr. Shelly McGuire, a spokesman for the American Society of Nutrition, was quoted as saying “Certainly, until more experimental work is done, this study suggests that pregnant women should steer clear of artificially sweetened drinks.”2
Maybe the words “pregnant women” could be replaced with “everyone” in that statement?
According to a whole host of experts, it should be so. Soft drinks in general, in fact, should be avoided according to health practitioners and authors Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, James Duke, Marion Nestle; to name a few.3
The abstract for this latest study by Dr. Thornallur Haldorsson, principal author, says that soft drinks in general are suspected of many adverse health effects:
“Sugar-sweetened soft drinks have been linked to a number of adverse health outcomes such as high weight gain. Therefore, artificially sweetened soft drinks are often promoted as an alternative. However, the safety of artificial sweeteners has been disputed, and consequences of high intakes of artificial sweeteners for pregnant women have been minimally addressed.”
Results in the study were cross-referenced with women who consumed sugar-sweetened soft drinks. It was found that the possible causative was clearly the artificial sweeteners, rather than the soda or other ingredients. Both carbonated and non-carbonated drinks were included as well with the same result.
The actual physical change that causes the rise in premature birth rates is not known, according to the study’s authors. Artificial sweeteners have been connected to a host of adverse health effects, so it’s likely that doctors could just take their pick here.4 The study did point out that most of the premature births were due to medical induction rather than spontaneous delivery and removing data from women diagnosed with preeclampsia also had little effect on the odds for premature delivery and sweetener intake. With all of the other things eliminated as suspects by the authors, it’s clear that the artificial sweeteners are changing a fundamental aspect of pregnancy that is usually not measured.
This could include hormone production, muscular or cellular function, or another chemical interaction. Aspartame, for instance, breaks down into three major chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Methanol oxidizes into formaldehyde and then formic acid, both of which are toxic. These can accumulate in the body and have been linked to premature birth in primate studies.
So, from kidney function loss to cancer to premature birth, these sweeteners sure do have a lot going for them.
1 – Intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks and risk of preterm delivery: a prospective cohort study in 59,334 Danish pregnant women by Thorhallur I Halldorsson, et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2010
2 – Pregnant women should avoid ‘diet’ soft drinks: researchers by Rebecca Smith, The Telegraph, August 19, 2010
3 – The health effects of drinking soda – quotes from the experts by Mike Adams, NaturalNews
4 – Artificial Sweeteners are Continually Found to be Unsafe and Toxic by Ethan Huff, NaturalNews