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A new study suggests that drinking diet soda while pregnant may take a heavy toll on the baby’s health. Canadian researchers have reported that they found a strong link between sweetened beverage consumption during pregnancy and high BMI in the newborns.
The study, which involved more than 3,000 mothers and their babies, showed that women who drank beverages with artificial sweeteners while they were pregnant had a double risk of delivering babies with a high risk of becoming overweight by the time they were 1 year old than women who refused the drinks.
The study was published May 9 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
According to the research, women who consumed artificially sweetened beverages on a daily basis during pregnancy were at the highest risk of having an overweight child 12 months following the birth.
Nevertheless, the team could find a link only between low-calorie drinks consumption during pregnancy and childhood obesity. High-calorie drinks did not involve a similar risk.
Researchers believe that artificial sweeteners in diet sodas may be to blame. Past research had also found a link between the chemicals and a high risk of obesity after birth in animals.
But the Canadian team, led by Prof Meghan Azad at the University of Manitoba, wanted to replicate the findings in human trials. So, they sifted through a national database comprising info on 3,033 mothers and their children.
The mothers had agreed to fill questionnaires on their diets during pregnancy. About 90 percent of newborns had been medically assessed a year after their birth. About 30 percent of mothers acknowledged they consumed sweetened drinks while pregnant. Of those, 5 percent said they consumed the drinks on a daily basis. The drinks included diet soda, and products sweetened with Splenda, Equal, and other artificial sweeteners.
The women who reported that they had consumed these drinks during pregnancy also had higher BMI and a higher risk of being smokers than other study participants. Additionally, this group was less likely to breastfeed their babies as long as other mothers, and was more likely to put their children on solid foods earlier.
Researchers adjusted the study results for all these factors and found that the link between low-calorie drink consumption and childhood obesity risk remained strong. Yet, the link was statistically significant only in boys, the study also revealed.
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