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Using soft drinks during pregnancy boosts preterm delivery risk

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Aug 19, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Drinking artificially sweetened beverages or sugar sweetened beverages during pregnancy may increase risk of having a preterm delivery, according to a study published on Aug 1, 2012 in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Artificially sweetened (AS) and sugar-sweetened (SS) beverages are commonly used during pregnancy. A previous Danish study has already found artificially sweetened beverages associated with increased risk of preterm delivery.

L. Englund-Ögge of Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden and colleagues redid the study and confirmed the association. Additionally, they also found an association between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages during pregnancy and risk of preterm delivery.

The study involved 60,761 pregnant women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Intakes of carbonated and noncarbonated artificially sweetened beverages and sugar sweetened beverages and use of artificial sweeteners in hot drinks were surveyed through a self-reported food-frequency questionnaire in mid-pregnancy. Preterm delivery was registered in the Norwegian Medical Birth Registry.

Drinking greater than one serving of artificially sweetened beverages per day during pregnancy was found associated with 11 percent increased risk for preterm delivery and drinking greater than one serving of sugar sweetened beverages per day was correlated with 25 percent increased risk of preterm delivery.

The researchers concluded a high intake of both AS (artificially sweetened) beverages and SS (sugar sweetened) beverages during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of preterm delivery."

Preterm delivery is defined as have a delivery at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy compared to 40 weeks for a full term pregnnacy.

Babies born preterm are more likely to have jaundice, breathing problems and longer hospital stays.  Those who survive may face lifelong problems including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, breathing and respiratory problems, vision and hearing loss, and feeding and digestive problems.

Preterm delivery statistics:  More than a half million babies or one in every 8 babies in the U.S. are born preterm.

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