Artificial sweeteners may harm unborn babies

Q: My daughter-in-law is pregnant and is watching her weight. She’s started drinking diet fizzy drinks, which she claims is better for her. But I’ve read that pregnant women should stay away from artificial sweeteners (and caffeine, for that matter). So who’s right?

Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: It seems like everything I know about women, I’ve learned the hard way.

For example, when your spouse asks how she looks in a new dress, the right answer is always, “Beautiful!”

And a pregnant woman’s weight? Well, that’s a topic most guys shouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

When women are pregnant, they’re understandably self-conscious about their weight. And they’ll try lots of things to keep from packing on any more pounds than they need to.

But the short answer is: You’re right.

First, pregnant women should try to limit their caffeine intake as much as possible. An occasional coffee or tea is fine – but enjoy them black.

More importantly, it’s best to keep those artificial sweeteners out of your diet completely. They’re not healthy for pregnant women, their babies, or anyone else.

In fact, a recent study found that women who consumed the most artificial sweeteners during pregnancy were most likely to have babies that were overweight by the one-year mark.

That’s not terribly surprising. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose may not have calories, but that doesn’t mean they’re without risks.

As I’ve shared before, these sweeteners can trick your body into an insulin response that can lead to weight gain. They’ve even been linked to insulin resistance and diabetes.

So it’s best to swear off these sweeteners, pregnant or not.

Want me to answer your question next? Just email me at

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing

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