Soft drink consumption by mothers-to-be can lead to an increased risk of high body mass index (BMI) leading to overweight children.
The results indicated that daily consumption of artificially sweetened drinks – compared to no consumption of these drinks – was associated with an increase in BMI for infants and twice the risk of being overweight a baby a year old.
“The results provide the first evidence that human artificial sweetener consumption during pregnancy may increase the risk of overweight in early childhood,” said Meghan B Azad University of Manitoba in Canada.
The study – published online in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine – examined 3,033 mother-infant pairs to examine the association of artificially sweetened beverage consumption during pregnancy and its effects on BMI infants in the first year of life. A food questionnaire was used to assess diet during pregnancy and child BMI was measured at one year of age.
The results revealed that approximately 29.5 percent of mothers reported consumption of artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy, including 5.1 percent of women who reported drinking every day. The average age of pregnant women was 32.4 years and 5.1 percent of children were overweight.
“Given the current epidemic of childhood obesity and the widespread use of artificial sweeteners, more research is warranted to replicate our findings in other cohorts and long-term outcomes,” the authors say.