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Study: How Drinking Diet Soda During Pregnancy Increases the Risk of Childhood Obesity

May 10, 2016 04:35 AM EDT

A new study has found a link between women who consumes diet sodas or artificially-sweetened beverages during their pregnancy and risk of childhood obesity.

According to the study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, pregnant women who drink beverages with nonnutritive sweeteners were twice as likely to have their babies classified as overweight when they reach the age of 1 year old.

For the study, 3,033 mother-infant dyads from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study were observed. The mothers were asked to accomplish dietary questionnaires regarding their food and drink consumption during their second or third trimester of pregnancy. Researchers then measured the height and weight of the babies a year after they are born.

After analyzing the questionnaires, researchers found out that 29.5 percent of the women in the study has consumed artificially sweetened beverages during their pregnancy, including 5.1 percent that reported daily consumption of artificially-sweetened drinks. Additionally also discovered that 5.1 percents of the infants were overweight at one year of age.

The researchers then discovered a significant correlation between intake of drinks with artificial sweetener and thee infant's BMI score. Women who consumed beverages with artificial sweeteners were more likely to have kids with higher BMI score at the age one year old.

According to the report from Los Angeles Times, the study any causal relationship between consumption of drinks with artificial sweeteners and higher BMI score of infants. It just simply showed a significant link between the two. Also, data acquired through questionnaires does not really provide concrete evidence due to the possibility of misreporting.

"To our knowledge, we provide the first human evidence that maternal consumption of artificial sweeteners during pregnancy may influence infant BMI. Given the current epidemic of childhood obesity and widespread use of artificial sweeteners, further research is warranted to confirm our findings and investigate the underlying biological mechanisms, with the ultimate goal of informing evidence-based dietary recommendations for pregnant women," the authors wrote in their study.

Nevertheless, the researchers advised expecting mothers to avoid artificially sweetened beverages as much as possible during pregnancy, and maintain a healthy lifestyle for the good of infants.

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