I'm 4 months pregnant and sometimes enjoy food and drinks that are artificially
sweetened. But could those be harmful to my baby?
There has been some controversy and debate about the safety of artificial
sweeteners, especially aspartame and saccharin, but most health care professionals
believe they're safe when used in moderation.
One thing that is clear is that you should avoid aspartame if you have the hereditary
disease phenylketonuria, or PKU, in which the body can't break down the compound phenylalanine,
found in aspartame. The jury is still out on whether saccharin is safe to use during
pregnancy. Although it crosses the placenta and can accumulate in fetal tissue, there's
not enough evidence to prove that it is harmful to an unborn baby.
The bottom line is it's OK to have an occasional diet soda or sugar-free food.
Still, it's wise to check product labels and try to limit anything with artificial
sweeteners (especially saccharin), just to be on the safe side. And check with your
doctor about the safety of specific sweeteners, including any that are new on the