Is It Safe to Drink Diet Soda While Pregnant?by Katlyn Joy | October 6, 2013 12:00 AM
Is drinking diet soda safe during pregnancy? Perhaps you decide an occasional diet pop will be a better choice than a regular, sugary soda. Is that the better choice, though? While no definitive study has been done and validated by later research, there have been plenty of concerns raised to give one pause.
What Do Studies Suggest?
An article published in the September 2010 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that pregnant women who drank at least once daily artificially sweetened sodas or soft drink, were 38 percent more likely to deliver their babies prematurely or before the 37th week of pregnancy. No increase was seen in women who drank regular, sugary pop however. This study involved nearly 60,000 women and researchers controlled for known prematurity risks such as advanced maternal age, smoking and being overweight.
Diet sodas contain harmful chemicals such as the mold inhibitors sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate which are linked to damage in the body's DNA and have been known to cause hives, asthma, allergic conditions as well as being classified in the United Kingdom as mild irritants to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes.
You will gain more weight than recommended by drinking diet soda. According to the University of Texas Health Science Center, drinking two or more diet soda drinks per day results in a 500 percent increase in a drinker's waistline. The diet drink tricks the body into thinking it's taking in sugar, and will then crave more.
Another study linked diet soda to metabolic syndrome, which is a factor in heart disease. This study involved 10,000 people and was conducted by the University of Minnesota.
A study from Harvard Medical School that was conducted over 11 years, found that women who drank more than 2 diet sodas a day had a two-fold decrease in kidney function. This result was only found with diet drinks, not sugary sodas.
A 9 year study of New Yorkers found that those who drank diet soda, every day, were 61 percent more likely to experience vascular events such as heart attacks or strokes.
What the Research Means...and Doesn't Mean
Certainly not all studies are created equal. You have to understand that certain factors during the studies must be controlled. In addition, follow up studies of significant duration and involving a large enough number of participants is important to provide accurate statistics.
You may choose to take chances when it's just you, but when you are pregnant the stakes are higher and involve more than just you. While you may not know for absolutely certain that diet soda will harm you or your unborn child, do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Other Reasons to Forgo the Diet Pop
Every calorie should count during pregnancy. Make everything you ingest pack a nutritional punch, not just a caloric one. If you are filling yourself up with diet soda, you may not be drinking enough water or other nutritious drinks like 100 percent juice or milk. Pregnant women are especially at risk for dehydration, and getting enough fluid is important. Also, during pregnancy women can be prone to constipation and taking in enough water is a great way to combat this annoyance.
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