Background: Sugar-sweetened soft drinks have been linked to a number of adverse health outcomes such as high weight gain. Therefore, artificially sweetened soft drinks are often promoted as an alternative. However, the safety of artificial sweeteners has been disputed, and consequences of high intakes of artificial sweeteners for pregnant women have been minimally addressed.
Objective: We examined the association between intakes of sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks and preterm delivery.
Design: We conducted prospective cohort analyses of 59,334 women from the Danish National Birth Cohort (1996-2002). Soft drink intake was assessed in midpregnancy by using a food-frequency questionnaire. Preterm delivery ( lt 37 wk) was the primary outcome measure. Covariate information was assessed by telephone interviews.
Results: There was an association between intake of artificially sweetened carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks and an increased risk of preterm delivery (P for trend: le 0.001, both variables). In comparison with women with no intake of artificially sweetened carbonated soft drinks, the adjusted odds ratio for women who consumed ge 1 serving of artificially sweetened carbonated soft drinks/d was 1.38 (95% CI: 1.15, 1.65). The corresponding odds ratio for women who consumed ge 4 servings of artificially sweetened carbonated soft drinks/d was 1.78 (95% CI: 1.19, 2.66). The association was observed for normal-weight and overweight women. A stronger increase in risk was observed for early preterm and moderately preterm delivery than with late-preterm delivery. No association was observed for sugar-sweetened carbonated soft drinks (P for trend: 0.29) or for sugar-sweetened noncarbonated soft drinks (P for trend: 0.93).
Conclusions: Daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks may increase the risk of preterm delivery. Further studies are needed to reject or confirm these findings.