The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of low-calorie sweeteners during pregnancy. Two recent studies aimed to calculate the overall risk of preterm delivery in pregnant women based on consumption of sugared beverages versus low-calorie beverages. The study results, though skewed in some cases, were comparable. There appears to be no increased risk of preterm birth when low-calorie beverages are consumed during pregnancy.
The first study was completed in Norway using data collected as part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort. Researchers found reports of slightly more than 3,200 preterm births out of 60,761 cases reviewed. The majority of the preterm births were delivered after the 37th week of pregnancy. Consumption of sugared beverages during pregnancy was associated with a slightly higher risk of preterm delivery, but such an association was not found with consumption of low-calorie beverages.
The second study used information collected in the Danish National Birth Cohort. Though only 27 cases of preterm birth were noted, the same results were found. As a matter of fact, the relative risk of preterm delivery with consumption of low-calorie beverages was slightly lower in patients who consumed low-calorie beverages. This study was skewed in that carbonation was also taken into consideration. Reviewers also believed the patients could have had other medical issues contributing to the risk of preterm delivery not noted by study authors.
Despite the issues with the Danish study, reviewers reported the two studies came to the same conclusion. Consuming low-calorie beverages during pregnancy does not appear to increase risk of preterm delivery. With a slightly higher risk of preterm delivery in the sugared beverage group of the Norwegian study and slightly lower risk of preterm delivery in the low-calorie beverage group of the Danish study, one could assume lower risk in patients consuming low-calorie beverages.
The results of the meta-analysis were published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care.
Source: Carlo La Vecchia. Low-calorie sweeteners and the risk of preterm delivery: results from two studies and a meta-analysis. J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care 2013;39:12-13 doi:10.1136/jfprhc-2012-100545.