Expecting mothers who test positive for gestational diabetes and drink at least one diet beverage daily while pregnant may negatively influence the weight of their children.
Researchers compiled data on women who tested positive for gestational diabetes and regularly consumed artificially sweetened diet drinks. Approximately 9% of study participants drank one or more diet beverages daily. Scientists found that the combination of gestational diabetes and diet drinks increased the chances of the children becoming overweight or obese by age seven.
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Obesity is on the rise in the U.S., especially in regards to children. This treatable condition carries major health risks, and contributes to serious conditions as children age including diabetes, heart issues, and stroke.
The study's authors examined data from 918 expecting mothers who tested positive for gestational diabetes. They analyzed source material from 1996 through 2002, collected by the Danish National Birth Cohort. Researchers divided pregnant mothers into two groups: those who consumed diet drinks, and those who drank only water. The women completed detailed questionnaires on their dietary habits, and researchers tracked the weight of their children. The results show that the children in the first group have increased risks of childhood obesity.
Specifically, for women who drank one or more artificially sweetened beverages daily, their babies were 60% more likely to have a high birth weight; however by age seven these children nearly doubled their chances of being overweight or obese.
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Health concerns surrounding artificial sweeteners have been rising over the past several decades. The study's authors cited previous research finding that these sweeteners can impact weight gain for adults as a motivator to determine whether or not an expecting mother's consumption could impact her child.
Healthcare professionals counsel expecting mothers to increase their fluid intake as their pregnancy progresses to remain hydrated, aid circulation, and decrease constipation. However, replacing water with artificially sweetened beverages is likely a health gamble-for both mother and child.