Diet beverages during pregnancy linked to child obesity

WINDOW ROCK

Mothers-to-be with gestational diabetes who drink a diet beverage a day during pregnancy are more likely to have overweight or obese children by the age of seven, suggests a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH said pregnant women with gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy, who drank water instead of artificially sweetened drinks, were less likely to have an overweight child.

Childhood obesity is known to increase the risk for certain health problems later in life, such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, said the NIH.

The NIH said many women replace sugar-sweetened soft drinks and juices with beverages containing artificial sweeteners during pregnancy to avoid the extra calories.

Researchers at NIH sought to determine if diet beverage consumption during pregnancy could influence the weight of children.

Researchers also found consuming a daily artificially sweetened beverage appeared to offer no advantages over consuming a daily sugar-sweetened beverage.

“Our findings suggest that artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy are not likely to be any better at reducing the risk for later childhood obesity than sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Culin Zhang, Ph.D., of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Epidemiology Branch.

“Not surprisingly, we also observed that children born to women who drank water instead of sweetened beverages were less likely to be obese by age seven,” he said.

Lt. Commander and diabetes educator Bernadine John with the Tse Hoostooi Medical Center said the study is new and further research was needed, but added gestational diabetes in pregnant women on the Navajo Nation was on the rise.

To avoid any future health problems for their child and themselves, she added that any woman who wants to become a mother should plan their pregnancy and seek health education.

She said if a woman went to see her doctor the moment she suspects she may be pregnant, rather than waiting until her third trimester, she could receive many things, like education on what to eat and how much to eat.


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