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Aspartame & Pregnant Women

By Sara Ipatenco ; Updated June 13, 2017

When you are pregnant, it is important to use caution when choosing what you will eat and drink to protect the development and health of your unborn baby. This includes using caution when ingesting foods and drinks that contain aspartame, an alternative to sugar often chosen by women who are watching their caloric intake. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame are made from two amino acids called phenylalanine and aspartic acid, Baby Center reports.

Safety of Aspartame

Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, are added to certain foods and drinks to maintain their sweetness without using real sugar. This cuts the number of calories in these foods and beverages, which the American Pregnancy Association notes is beneficial for individuals attempting to manage weight gain. When you are pregnant, you should make the effort to eat the most nutritious and beneficial foods and drinks to support the healthy growth of your baby. Aspartame is considered safe during pregnancy if consumed in moderation.

Exceptions to Aspartame Use

If you have phenylketonuria, or PKU, you should not eat any aspartame while you are pregnant. If you consume foods and drinks with aspartame, your body will begin to build up phenylalanine, which is present in this artificial sweetener. Baby Center notes that if you build up too much phenylalanine, the risk of birth defects increases. If you develop a headache after consuming products that contain aspartame, you may want to avoid it during your pregnancy as well. If you do not have PKU and only experience a headache, your baby is not in danger, but you may feel more comfortable if you eliminate it from your diet.

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Foods with Apartame

The Food and Drug Administration requires that any food or drink containing aspartame include that information on the packaging label. If you wish to avoid or moderate how much aspartame you ingest, reading food labels is a must. The most common foods and drinks that contain aspartame include diet sodas and other sugar-free beverages, gelatin, desserts, puddings, breakfast cereal, gum and certain dairy products, the American Pregnancy Association reports.

Healthy Alternatives

If you have PKU or wish to restrict how much aspartame you consume during your pregnancy, there are healthy alternatives that will provide the sweet taste you crave without causing you to eat too much sugar. Fresh fruit provides natural sweetness without added sugar. Honey stirred into plain yogurt is another nutritious alternative that will provide nutrients your unborn baby needs to grow. Baby Center recommends replacing diet sodas, which are not part of a healthy pregnancy diet, with water or fruit juice.

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