Researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center uncovered an alarming three-fold increase in autism diagnoses among boys born to mothers who consumed diet soda or aspartame while pregnant or breastfeeding.
A recent study from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio reveals a significant connection between maternal consumption of diet soda or aspartame and an elevated risk of autism in male offspring. The study found no such correlation in girls.
The case-control study, led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and published on August 29 in the international journal Nutrients, discovered that boys diagnosed with autism were more than three times as likely to have been born to mothers who reported daily consumption of one or more diet sodas or comparable amounts of aspartame. Conversely, there was no statistically significant link identified among girls born to mothers who consumed these products on a daily basis.
Dr. Raymond F. Palmer, senior author of the paper and a professor at UT Health San Antonio’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, emphasized the gravity of the findings: "Our findings raise new questions about potential neurological impacts that need to be addressed."
In addition to researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, scholars from the School of Public Health campuses in San Antonio and Houston of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and the School of Public Health at San Diego State University also contributed to the research.
Dr. Sharon Parten Fowler, the study's lead author and an adjunct assistant professor of medicine at UT Health San Antonio, elaborated on the significance of the research.
"Our findings contribute to the growing literature raising concerns about potential offspring harm from maternal diet beverage and aspartame consumption during pregnancy," she said.
The study poses critical questions concerning the safety of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, suggesting that maternal consumption could pose an elevated risk for developmental issues in male offspring.
The findings of this groundbreaking research underscore the necessity for further studies to comprehend the implications of maternal diet soda and aspartame consumption on child development, especially in males. Until then, mothers-to-be are advised to consult their healthcare providers about dietary choices during pregnancy and breastfeeding periods.