Drinking diet soda during pregnancy to cut down on sugar and excess calories? You might want to rethink your next sip, according to a new report from Danish researchers that found women who downed one or more cans of artificially sweetened pop daily during pregnancy were more likely to experience preterm birth (delivery before 37 weeks gestation).
Published in the September 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study looked at the soft drink habits of nearly 60,000 Danish women enrolled in a national study there from 1996 to 2002. Compared to women who never drank artificially sweetened carbonated beverages during pregnancy, women who reported drinking one or more can of diet soda daily were 38 percent more likely to deliver prematurely. Most alarming, women who downed the most diet soda (four or more drinks a day) were 78 percent more likely to deliver early.
Surprisingly, researchers found no connection between sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages and preterm delivery. So what's going on? According to a HealthDay report on the study, researchers speculate that the link between diet soda and preterm delivery may be driven by high blood pressure disorders in pregnancy. Researchers noted that other studies have found a link between soft drinks and high blood pressure in non-pregnant women.
In response to the study, experts within the carbonated beverage industry maintain that the overwhelming majority of scientific literature shows that low-calorie sweeteners are safe for use in pregnancy. But still want an alternative? Stick to water, juices, and milk, recommends Shelley McGuire of the American Society of Nutrition, who told HealthDay she believes the new findings "may be really important in terms of preventing premature births..."
Moms-to-be in search of some low-calorie fizz can also try adding a squeeze of lemon juice to a glass of seltzer water.