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May 10, 2016 08:46 AM EDT

Pregnancy & Obesity: Mom's Diet Soda Drinking Habit Could Produce Overweight Babies, Study Reveals

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Pregnant women who drink artificially flavored beverages like diet soda are more likely to produce overweight babies. A new study found a link between pregnant women who have a daily diet soda drinking habit and offsprings prone to childhood obesity. Researchers say that it may be caused by an ingredient found in diet soda.

According to the research published in JAMA Pediatrics, non-nutritive sweeteners commonly used in diet soda may be the culprit of increased risk of childhood obesity and even diabetes in children. More than 3,000 pairs of mothers and children were surveyed about what they drank and ate during pregnancy and the body mass index of their babies were measured when they turned a year old. Researchers found that pregnant mothers who drank diet soda daily had children who had a double increased chance of obesity.

Researchers did not find the same link with pregnant women who drank regular sugar-sweetened beverages. However, this did not mean that ingesting too much sugar is any less harmful as too much of it can cause weight gain and this could negatively impact child development, LA Times noted.

There were limitations in the study as the researchers did not differentiate the kind of non-sugar sweeteners were consumed or the diet soda brand that the subjects preferred. An expert pointed out to NBC News that there was missing information that could have been crucial in the study and this includes what the obese babies were eating when they were introduced to solid food.

Lead author Dr. Meghan Azad of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada theorized that the obesity link may be caused by additives used in non-sugar sweeteners and diet soda. She explained that these chemicals may be changing the microbiome in the gut and may have caused changes with regards to metabolism. The effect may have been inherited by the infant, CBS News shared.

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