Study Suggests connection Between Diet Sodas, Preterm Delivery

Could drinking one or more naturally sweetened, carbonated diet sodas a day boost a woman's odds of premature delivery? A new study from Denmark suggests such a connection.
The researchers looked at the soft drink habits of almost 60,000 Danish women enrolled in a national study there from 1996 to 2002. The investigators establish a link between the intake of diet sparkling drinks and, to a lesser extent, diet noncarbonated drinks and delivering a baby early.
The study is published online and in the September print issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the report, the researchers conclude: "Daily intake of naturally sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery."
The researchers define preterm as delivering before 37 weeks' development. They categorized the women into groups depending on beverage drinking habits: those who never drank soft drinks or those who drank less than one per week, one to six per week, one each day, two or three per day, or four or more daily.
In all, 4.6 percent of the women delivered early, and one-third of those deliveries were medically induced. The team establishes no association between the early delivery and the intake of carbonated drinks sweetened with sugar.
However, compared with those who never drank the beverages, women who downed four or more diet sparkling drinks a day were 78 percent more likely to deliver early than women who never drank the beverages. And those who had four or more diet, noncarbonated drinks daily were 29 percent more likely to transport early.
Persons who had one or more carbonated diet drinks a day were 38 percent more likely to deliver early. Why the diet drinks, particularly, were linked with early delivery is not known, but the researchers wonder that the link may be driven by high blood pressure disorders in pregnancy. They note that other studies have found a link between soft drinks and high blood pressure in non-pregnant women.
The drink industry took exception to the findings. But extra experts said pregnant women may want to take heed of the study results. In a statement, Shelley McGuire of the American Society of Nutrition, said the findings "may be really important in terms of preventing premature births, especially those that are medically induced by a woman's health care provider."
She suggests pregnant women focus on water, juices and milk.
In a declaration, Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, medical director of the March of Dimes, said that "pregnant women should eat smart and make sure that most of their food choices are healthy ones. Artificially sweetened drinks don't make most lists of healthy foods. As the authors point out, extra research is needed to understand the impact of these beverages on pregnancy and fetal expansion. Until that is clear, it is practical for pregnant women to drink these beverages in moderation. They also should discuss with their doctors their risk of preterm birth and the signs and symptoms of preterm work. "


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