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Study: Diet Sodas May Raise Risk of Preterm Delivery

Researchers See Possible Risks in Drinking Diet Soft Drinks During Pregnancy

Causes of Preterm Delivery continued...

The study results showed that pregnant women who drank one or more diet sodas per day were 38% more likely to deliver before 37 weeks than women who never drank artificially sweetened sodas. Those women who drank four or more diet sodas a day during pregnancy were 78% more likely to deliver early compared to women who did not drink diet sodas during pregnancy.

Since there was no increased risk seen among women who consumed sugar-sweetened drinks, the researchers suggest that it's the artificial sweetener, not soda drinking, that is responsible. Exactly how or why artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase risk of preterm delivery is not clear, but the researchers speculate that some of the sweetening ingredients may be broken down into substances that could increase this risk.

Researchers gathered information on consumption of soft drinks among 59,334 women in the Danish National Birth Cohort midway through their pregnancy. They controlled for some factors known to increase risk of preterm labor including advanced maternal age, smoking history, and weight before becoming pregnant.

Overall, 4.62% of women in the new study delivered prematurely, and 33.3% of these were "medically induced" preterm deliveries, meaning that the doctor induced preterm delivery to protect the health of the mother or baby. Drinking artificially sweetened diet soft drinks was more likely to increase risk of early preterm (before 32 weeks) and moderately preterm delivery than late-preterm delivery, the study showed.

Perspective of American Society for Nutrition

“These findings may be really important in terms of preventing premature births, especially those that are medically induced by a woman's health care provider," says Shelley McGuire, PhD, a spokeswoman for the American Society for Nutrition in a written statement.

"Certainly, until more experimental work is done, this study suggests that pregnant women should steer clear of artificially sweetened drinks," says McGuire, also an associate professor of nutrition at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. "Pregnant women should be focusing more on nutrient-rich drinks anyway, like milk and fruit juices. And don't forget the water!”

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