Although the safety of artificial sweeteners is a hot button topic, most experts agree that sucralose is safe during pregnancy. Learn why the sugar substitute sometimes gets a bad rep.
Before becoming pregnant, I was on a mission to lose weight. As sugar was my biggest nemesis, I made the switch to sucralose. Sucralose is a zero-calorie artificial sweetener that is made from sugar and tastes like sugar.
However, sucralose is approximately 600 times sweeter than normal sugar, so only a small amount is needed to sweeten foods and beverages.
Just two months later I discovered I was pregnant. While I was glad that I had been eating healthier, I was worried how the sugar substitute would affect the baby. I had heard through the grapevine that artificial sweeteners can be dangerous, causing everything from miscarriages to birth defects.
After talking to my doctor and other health professionals, I discovered that sucralose was one of the safer sweeteners.
Sucralose has no effect on blood sugar and is deemed safe during pregnancy and lactation, according to the American Pregnancy Association. It is also regarded as safe for consumption by everyone, including pregnant women, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What the Experts Say
Sucralose is a popular artificial sweetener often found under the brand name Splenda. It is commonly used in baking, as well as in coffee, juices, sodas, and chewing gum. The sugar substitute can also replace traditional sugar as a table-top sweetener.
As it does not elevate blood sugar, add to their caloric intake, or affect a growing embryo or fetus, sucralose has been found safe for consumption by pregnant women.
“Sucralose is one of the newest low-calorie sweeteners on the market and is the generic name for the product called Splenda. It was only approved by the FDA in 1998. Sucralose is safe for pregnant women to consume, and as with other sweeteners it is best used in moderation.”
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“Sucralose has been approved for use in baked goods, baking mixes, non-alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, coffee and tea products, confections and frostings, fats and oils, frozen dairy desserts and mixes, fruit juices, sugar substitutes, sweet sauces, toppings, and syrups.”
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“Sucralose can be used safely during pregnancy… Studies in animal models showed that sucralose is not actively transported across the placental barrier. On the other hand, we have rat studies which clearly show that sucralose does enter the brain.”
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“The safety of FDA-approved nonnutritive sweeteners is expressed in terms of acceptable daily intake (ADI). The measure reflects the estimated amount per kilogram of body weight that a person can safely consume every day over a lifetime without health risk. Sucralose: 0 to 15 mg/kilogram body weight.”
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“Sucralose is the only sugar substitute made from sugar so it is safe to use during pregnancy. Like sugar, sugar substitutes offer no key nutrients so you lose nothing by limiting or eliminating them while you are pregnant.”
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The Dangers of Sucralose
There’s been much controversy surrounding the safety of artificial sweeteners like sucralose. Studies done on the sugar substitute take both sides. While most health experts agree that sucralose is safe for everyone to consume, others remain adamant that it’s dangerous for both pregnant and non-pregnant women alike.
Researchers at the Ramazzini Institute in Italy thoroughly tested the effects of sucralose on both male and female mice to determine its effects on the body. The study consisted of 457 male mice and 396 female mice that were given varying quantities of the artificial sweetener.
Many of the mice were later found to have developed cancer, including leukemia, according to a study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.
Your Best Bet? Consume in Moderation
Like everything, artificial sweeteners should be used in moderation. As the sugar substitute is not needed for a healthy diet and offers no nutritional value, use it sparingly or not at all. If you prefer not to consume sucralose, seek out healthier alternatives to sugar.
If you’re having a sugar craving, consume natural sugar in the form of fresh fruit. Strawberries, bananas, apples, and grapes are all delicious and healthy options that may diminish your cravings for a sugary treat.
Unless you have diabetes or an insulin problem, raw cane sugar is also safe during pregnancy. Cane sugar is not genetically modified and most are not heavily processed.
Other alternatives include coconut sugar, maple sugar, and pasteurized honey. Avoid unpasteurized honey as it can contain harmful bacteria which can germinate in a baby’s gut and cause infant botulism.
Don’t worry moms-to-be: you don’t have to give up sugar entirely. If eaten in moderation, sucralose can be consumed without posing a risk to your unborn child.