Exposure to the frequently used artificial sweetener aspartame, often found in diet sodas, has been connected to chronic illnesses and autism. Studies suggest that consuming just one diet soda during pregnancy can increase the autism risk in male children by threefold.
Research has shown that early life exposure to aspartame might be associated with autism, especially in boys. This artificial sweetener, linked to neurological issues and potentially cancer-causing effects, is used in over 23,000 global products, including diet soda. Its consumption among adults and kids grew by 54% and 200%, respectively, between 1999 and 2012. Meanwhile, autism rates surged from 0.3 per 1,000 children pre-1980 to 27.6 per 1,000 in 2020. Environmental components, possibly including aspartame, might be influential.
Exposure to aspartame in early life elevates autism risk significantly
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio researchers probed if exposure to a single diet soda or an equal amount of aspartame (177mg) daily during pregnancy or infancy heightens autism risk. Their findings indicated that male children with autism were over three times likelier to be born to mothers who consumed aspartame or diet soda regularly during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. The lead author of the study, Dr. Raymond F. Palmer, emphasized that while these links don’t confirm causation, they do raise important questions regarding neurological implications.
The research evaluated data from 235 children with autism and 121 neurotypical children. Boys who were exposed to diet soda or aspartame daily during gestation or while breastfeeding exhibited a three times elevated autism risk.
Given the findings, some doctors and researchers advise women against aspartame consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They stress the importance of caution until further research can provide clearer insights.
Members Only Content
To continue reading please subscribe to WellnessPlus by Dr. Jess MD
Be your own best doctor with our comprehensive suite of online health coaching tools.