What Should I Know About Aspartame and Pregnancy?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Aspartame is a sugar substitute found in a number of different foods. It may sweeten low calorie versions of desserts or yogurts and is found in plenty of diet sodas. There has been concern about aspartame and pregnancy voiced by many people, and fueled by Internet allegations. At present, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has investigated these allegations, found them to be false, and considers aspartame and pregnancy to be compatible. Nevertheless, some doctors recommend limiting use for a few important reasons.

Diet soda may contain aspartame.
Diet soda may contain aspartame.

The first reason why aspartame and pregnancy may not go together well is because pregnant women should probably not be consuming “diet” foods. If you’re really worried about calorie intake when pregnant, you may not be getting enough calories. You can eat plenty of nutritious foods without overeating, and still not have to resort to low calorie foods to stay healthy.

The FDA feels that negative allegations regarding concerns about aspartame during pregnancy are false.
The FDA feels that negative allegations regarding concerns about aspartame during pregnancy are false.

Another potential consideration regarding aspartame and pregnancy is the types of foods aspartame is usually in. If your consumption of this aspartame is primarily through diet sodas, you may want to give the matter some thought. Many diet sodas contain high levels of caffeine and doctors recommend that people should limit consumption of caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams a day. Some recent studies suggest consuming 200 milligrams of caffeine or more may significantly increase risk of miscarriage. If you can avoid caffeine, you probably should.

Women who have phenylketonuria (PKU) must steer clear of aspartame during pregnancy.
Women who have phenylketonuria (PKU) must steer clear of aspartame during pregnancy.

One consideration about aspartame and pregnancy is that using some sugar substitutes may actually be better for some women. Women suffering from diabetes typically cannot consume sugar and are safer using aspartame. Other sugar substitutes are not as safe. Saccharin definitely has been linked to greater incidence of birth defects.

There is one group of women who should not mix aspartame and pregnancy. Women who have phenylketonuria (PKU) should never consume anything with aspartame. This is because this sugar substitute is high in phenylalanines. People with PKU cannot process this amino acid and high blood levels can result in tragic consequence during pregnancy, with great risk to the unborn child. PKU is diagnosed early so most women will know that they have the disease.

Despite there being some Internet buzz about links between aspartame and pregnancy, there still remains scant evidence that it is unsafe for pregnant women. On the other hand, you may simply want to avoid it and choose foods that are less chemically produced. However, the occasional ingestion of this sugar substitute should not be cause for alarm, and food-certifying agencies in the US continue to attest to its safety.

There is little evidence that aspartame is detrimental during pregnancy.
There is little evidence that aspartame is detrimental during pregnancy.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


This article does a great job at pointing out some important facts. Aspartame is one of the most studied food additives in the world, with close to 1,000 studies completed! Organizations around the world have extensively reviewed all the data and deemed it completely safe for humans. The most recent review, by the European Food Safety Authority in 2013, concluded that “aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for general population (including infants, children and pregnant women)”. More information on the review and aspartame can be found on the EFSA website.

Aspartame can be particularly useful for pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes- it allows you to get your sweet fix without altering blood glucose levels!


Are any of you women have a degree in biochemistry or medicine? Moderation is everything, especially during pregnancy.


Watch Swwet Misery: A Poisoned World. Aspertame is a toxin! My son was born with serious neurological disorders and will never live a normal life. I drank diet drinks during pregnancy based on all the reports that it was safe.

I don't know for a fact that this is what caused his brain issues but every genetic test has come up negative and that was my only vice, so to speak. I will have to question for the rest of my life if I did this to him. Those diet drinks were not worth it!


Sunny27- I agree with you. Many women have a difficult time metabolizing aspartame which is why many doctors want pregnant women to avoid aspartame during pregnancy.

Also, the pregnant women should not be concerned with her caloric intake, but rather the welfare of her child. Eating a wide variety of nutritious food is best.


I just want to agree that caffeine should not be ingested during pregnancy. This includes diet sodas without aspartame as well as any diet soda aspartame soft drink.

The baby is ingesting everything that the mother does so it is advisable to drink water or perhaps fruit juice instead of diet soda.

I am an avid coffee drinker, but with both of my pregnancies, I gave up caffeine completely. I don’t know if it causes problems with the baby’s central nervous system- but why take a chance.

Also, while these relatively safe artificial sweeteners don’t seem to pose a problem for adults, we don’t know the effects on the unborn child.

Since we don't know the dangers of artificial sweeteners, they should be avoided during this delicate time.

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