Diet Soft Drinks May Increase Risk of Preterm Birth

No correlation found for sugar-sweetened beverages

THURSDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks, both carbonated and noncarbonated, is associated with an increased risk for births occurring before 37 weeks' gestation, according to research published online June 30, ahead of the print issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Thorhallur I. Halldorsson, Ph.D., of the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues analyzed data on artificially sweetened soft drink consumption and delivery terms in a cohort of 59,334 women from the Danish National Birth Cohort (1996 to 2002). Preterm delivery (less than 37 weeks' gestation) was the primary outcome.

The researchers found an association between consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks -- carbonated and noncarbonated -- and an increased risk of preterm birth (P for trend ≤ 0.001 for both variables). The odds ratio for preterm birth for women consuming at least one artificially sweetened carbonated soft drink per day was 1.38; the odds ratio was 1.78 for those consuming at least four such drinks per day. There was a greater increase in risk for early and moderately preterm birth than for late preterm birth. The researchers found no such association between sugar-sweetened beverages and preterm births.

"The relative consistency of our findings for carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks and the absence of an association for sugar-sweetened soft drinks suggest that the content of artificial sweeteners might be the causal factor. However, the replication of our findings in another experimental setting is warranted," the authors conclude.

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