Weight is a key issue during pregnancy. Women want to gain just the right amount to nurture the developing baby but not pack on excessive pounds they will need to lose after pregnancy. To manage sugar intake and cut calories, many women turn to beverages with artificial sweeteners.
But according to a study recently published by JAMA Pediatrics, drinking diet beverages may actually be associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) for babies during the first months of life.
More than 3,000 pregnant women were observed between 2009 and 2012 as part of the study led by Meghan B. Azad, Ph.D., researcher with Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.
Women were asked to complete questionnaires during their second and third trimesters, reporting their consumption of artificially sweetened beverages during these developmental months. Then, the height and weight of each baby was measured when babies were 1 year old.
Consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was not uncommon. More than 25 percent of women consumed these beverages during pregnancy, with an estimated 5.1 percent of study participants consuming these beverages on a daily basis.
According to study findings, daily intake was associated with a .20 unit increase in each infant’s BMI and a two-fold increase in risk for obesity when the babies reached the age of 1.
While more research needs to be conducted, data collected to this point indicates that artificial sweetener additives may, in fact, influence the development of babies. Talk with your healthcare provider about a recommended dietary plan to support a healthier pregnancy.