Study Suggests Link Between Diet Sodas, Preterm
TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Could drinking one or more
artificially sweetened, carbonated diet sodas a day boost a woman's
odds of premature delivery? A new study from Denmark suggests such
The researchers looked at the soft drink habits of nearly 60,000
Danish women enrolled in a national study there from 1996 to
The investigators found a link between the intake of diet
carbonated drinks and, to a lesser extent, diet noncarbonated
drinks and delivering a baby early.
The study is published online and in the September print issue
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In the report, the researchers conclude: "Daily intake of
artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm
The researchers defined preterm as delivering before 37 weeks'
gestation. They categorized the women into groups depending on
beverage drinking habits: those who never drank soft drinks or
those who drank less than one per week, one to six per week, one
each day, two or three per day, or four or more daily.
In all, 4.6 percent of the women delivered early, and one-third
of those deliveries were medically induced.
The team found no association between the premature delivery and
the intake of carbonated drinks sweetened with sugar.
However, compared with those who never drank the beverages,
women who downed four or more diet (artificially sweetened)
carbonated drinks a day were 78 percent more likely to deliver
early than women who never drank the beverages. And those who had
four or more diet, noncarbonated drinks daily were 29 percent more
likely to deliver early.
Those who had one or more carbonated diet drinks a day were 38
percent more likely to deliver early.
Why the diet drinks, especially, were linked with early delivery
is not known, but the researchers speculate that the link may be
driven by high blood pressure disorders in pregnancy. They note
that other studies have found a link between soft drinks and high
blood pressure in non-pregnant women.
The beverage industry took exception to the findings.
In a statement, Beth Hubrich of the Calorie Control Council
said: "As a dietitian (and mom) I am deeply concerned that this
information may unduly alarm pregnant women. The overwhelming
majority of scientific literature shows that low-calorie sweeteners
are safe for use in pregnancy."
The study also doesn't prove cause-and-effect, Maureen Story,
senior vice president for science policy at the American Beverage
Association, said in a statement. ''The authors themselves
acknowledge the fact that their findings cannot demonstrate
cause-and-effect," she said.
But other experts said pregnant women may want to take heed of
the study results. In a statement, Shelley McGuire of the American
Society of Nutrition, said the findings "may be really important in
terms of preventing premature births, especially those that are
medically induced by a woman's health care provider."
She suggests pregnant women focus on water, juices and milk.
And in a statement, Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, medical director of
the March of Dimes, said that "pregnant women should eat smart and
make sure that most of their food choices are healthy ones.
Artificially sweetened drinks don't make most lists of healthy
foods. As the authors point out, additional research is needed to
understand the impact of these beverages on pregnancy and fetal
development. Until that is clear, it is prudent for pregnant women
to drink these beverages in moderation. They also should discuss
with their doctors their risk of preterm birth and the signs and
symptoms of preterm labor. "
To learn more about preterm labor, visit the
March of Dimes.
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