Exposure to non-nutritive sweeteners during pregnancy and lactation: Impact in programming of metabolic diseases in the progeny later in life

Reprod Toxicol. 2014 Nov;49:196-201. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2014.09.007. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


The nutritional environment during embryonic, fetal and neonatal development plays a crucial role in the offspring's risk of developing diseases later in life. Although non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) provide sweet taste without contributing to energy intake, animal studies showed that long-term consumption of NSS, particularly aspartame, starting during the perigestational period may predispose the offspring to develop obesity and metabolic syndrome later in life. In this paper, we review the impact of NNS exposure during the perigestational period on the long-term disease risk of the offspring, with a particular focus on metabolic diseases. Some mechanisms underlying NNS adverse metabolic effects have been proposed, such as an increase in intestinal glucose absorption, alterations in intestinal microbiota, induction of oxidative stress and a dysregulation of appetite and reward responses. The data reviewed herein suggest that NNS consumption by pregnant and lactating women should be looked with particular caution and requires further research.

Keywords: Fetal programming; Metabolic syndrome; Non-nutritive sweeteners; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aspartame / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy / drug effects
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*


  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
  • Aspartame