Although it is wise to avoid sugary beverages, especially during pregnancy, diet drinks may not be a better alternative. Most diet drinks contain a combination of artificial sweeteners and caffeine. Although artificial sweeteners and caffeine in moderation are generally considered safe during pregnancy, excessive consumption may prove problematic. Always talk to your doctor if you have specific concerns about the safety of beverages during pregnancy.
Most diet drinks use an artificial sweetener to provide sweetness. These sweeteners fall into two categories: nutritive and non-nutritive. Nutritive sweeteners, which generally contain calories, are not commonly found in diet beverages, with a few exceptions. Sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, isomalt and hydrogenated starch, are considered nutritive sweeteners. The contain fewer calories than sugar or other nutritive sweeteners. Non-nutritive sweeteners include aspartame, rebaudioside A, acesulfame potassium and sucralose. However, research on this topic is limited, so contact a doctor to discuss the latest studies being conducted regarding this issue if you have safety concerns.
One artificial sweetener should be avoided completely. Saccharin has been found to case birth defects in lab rats when consumed in high quantities. Although this research does not necessarily mean that birth defects would occur in humans, especially if taken in small amounts, the safety of this sweetener for pregnant humans is unclear.
Some diet drinks do not contain any caffeine, but many do. Although small amounts of caffeine are considered to be safe during pregnancy, getting too much may cause pregnancy complications and possibly trigger a miscarriage, although more research needs to be done to confirm this. Check the nutrition label on your diet beverage to determine how much caffeine is present and monitor your daily caffeine intake. The March of Dimes recommends that you consume less than 200 milligrams of caffeine each day while you are pregnant.
A 2010 study published in the September issue of “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” suggested that daily intake of diet beverages may increase the risk of preterm delivery. This does not necessarily mean that drinking diet beverage causes preterm labor or that diet beverages are unsafe. More research is needed to draw any specific conclusions.
Consumption of diet drinks in moderation is unlikely to harm you or your unborn baby during pregnancy. However, these beverages do not have the nutritional value of other beverages. Nutrient-rich drinks, such as milk or fruit or vegetable juices, can quench your thirst while providing many of the vitamins and minerals that you and your baby need. Even plain water may be a better alternative than diet drinks, providing you with hydration without the preservatives, sweeteners and other artificial ingredients found in diet beverages. Consider these factors when you decide which beverages to drink while you are pregnant.
- American Pregnancy Association; Using Artificial Sweetener During Pregnancy; March 2007
- March of Dimes; Caffeine in Pregnancy; May 2010
- Baby Center; Is It Safe to Drink Diet Soda During Pregnancy?; Melinda Johnson
- “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”; Intake of Artificially Sweetened Soft Drinks and Risk of Preterm Delivery; Thorhallur Halldorsson et al.; September 2010
- pregnant #3 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.