Chewing gum is made with a gum base, sweetening, and flavoring agents. It has a broad fanbase and is loved by one and all. But is it safe to chew gum during your pregnancy? Pregnant women may wonder if the otherwise harmless chewing gum ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, coloring, and flavoring agents, would harm their baby. Read this post to learn more about the safety of consuming chewing gums in pregnancy.
Is Chewing Gum Safe During Pregnancy?
When you are pregnant, it is important to take into consideration the safety angle of everything you eat and drink, and that includes chewing gums too.
Most food items that you eat after checking the sugar-free label are full of artificial sweeteners. While you may consciously be cutting down your intake of sugar while you are pregnant, you may unknowingly fall into the trap of eating empty calories in the form of artificial sweeteners and experiencing weight gain.
Before you consume anything while you are pregnant, it is important to seek a nod of approval from your doctor. She will be the best person to guide you whether or not it is safe for you to chew gum while you are pregnant. She may even suggest the best chewing gum for you and the ones you should avoid.
What Are Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are ingredients added to food items to make them sweet, without the use of sugar. Foods that come with the ‘sugar-free’ label like candies, colas, desserts and chewing gums, are replete with artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are of two types:
1. Nutritive Artificial Sweeteners:
The nutritive form of artificial sweeteners contains calories.
2. Non-Nutritive Artificial Sweeteners:
The non-nutritive form of artificial sweeteners does not contain any calories.
Nutritive Artificial Sweeteners In Chewing Gums
Most brands of chewing gums that claim to be sugar-free contain some or the other form of nutritive artificial sweeteners.
Nutritive artificial sweeteners are full of empty calories. These should ideally not form a big part of your nutrient intake during pregnancy. Even sugar-free chewing gums are high in calories and low in vitamin or mineral content. It is safe to consume nutritive artificial sweeteners during your pregnancy in moderate quantities. However, it is important first to take your doctor’s advice on the same.
When To Avoid Nutritive Artificial Sweeteners During Pregnancy?
If you have any of the following medical conditions during your pregnancy, make sure you avoid taking nutritive artificial sweeteners:
- Gestational Diabetes: It is a condition in which you will have very high levels of blood sugar during your pregnancy. It affects about two to ten percent of pregnancies in the US annually, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since uncontrolled blood glucose levels may lead to adverse maternal and fetal complications during pregnancy, it is crucial to limit sugar intake, if you have gestational diabetes to minimize the risks.
- Insulin Resistance: It is a condition in which your body becomes resistant to the insuliniXHormone involved in the regulation of blood glucose hormone. It puts you at a higher risk of suffering from a heart disease and is usually a precedent to Type 2 diabetes.
- Diabetes Mellitus: It is one of the most common types of diabetes. In most cases, it remains a life-long condition and affects your body’s ability to make use of the energy it gains from foods.
Dr. Laura Purdy, a US-based board-certified family medicine physician, says, “If you have poor dental hygiene, abscesses, infections, or TMJ problems, you might consider avoiding chewing gum. I would recommend checking with your dentist before you start chewing gum.”
Non-Nutritive Sweeteners That Are Safe During Pregnancy
Most non-nutritive artificial sweeteners are safe for consumption. The amount added is also usually small, only enough to give the food a little sweet flavor.
Here are some types of non-nutritive sweeteners added to chewing gums that you can safely consume while you are pregnant without worrying about the baby’s development:
Most chewing gums contain a form of non-nutritive sweetener called aspartameiXAn artificial sweetener . The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems it safe for use in chewing gums. It is still advisable that you check with your doctor before using it while expecting. Ensure you only have it in moderate quantities (1).
Do not use chewing gums that contain aspartame if you have any of the following conditions:
- PhenylketonuriaiXAn inherited condition marked by the inability to metabolize phenylalanine or PKU – it is a rare metabolic disorder
- Any form of liver disorder
- If your doctor confirms high levels of phenylalanine in your blood
It is a non-caloric sweetener approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a flavor in chewing gums. You and can have it in moderate amounts while you are pregnant. It will not have any effect on your blood sugar, and does not contain any calorie that can harm you or your unborn baby.
Artificial Sweeteners That Are Unsafe During Pregnancy
Even though it is not as popular as it was earlier, it is still a common ingredient in some food products, including chewing gums. You should strictly avoid its intake during these critical nine months as it can cross your placenta, reach your fetus and cause health complications and issues in fetal development.
It is a banned ingredient in the US. However, many chewing gum brands from other countries may still be using it to add the sweet flavor. Its safety for consumption during pregnancy is uncertain as yet hence it is best to avoid its intake to safeguard your unborn baby.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does chewing gum help with pregnancy nausea?
Yes. Some studies suggest that chewing gum can help with the symptoms of morning sickness, such as nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (2).
2. Can I chew gum while in labor?
A few reports state that chewing gums or mints during labor can help manage the anxiety and stress in the first stage of labor (3). However, it is recommended to consult with your prenatal care provider before doing so.
3. Can chewing gum during pregnancy help with heartburn?
A research study reported that chewing sugar-free gum for about 30 minutes after a meal might help alleviate heartburn or related symptoms by increasing the swallowing frequency (4).
Dr. Purdy opines, “Some studies have shown that chewing gum for a brief amount of time may have positive impacts on reflux. However, not every pregnant person experiences reflux, and not everyone who chews gum will have an improvement in their reflux. Therefore, it is important to run everything by your obstetrician before you decide to use it as an option.”
4. Is nicotine gum safe during pregnancy?
Ideally, it would help if you refrain from using any form of nicotine during pregnancy. Nonetheless, nicotine gum is an effective adjunct for smoking cessation. Likewise, a group study revealed that nicotine gum treatment in pregnant smokers is associated with increased gestationaliXPeriod from conception to birth of the baby age and birth weight (5).
You may use chewing gum during your pregnancy, considering the nutritional value and calories. Sometimes, the sugar-free labeled gums can also give you some extra calories. There are also non-nutritive chewing gums available that do not contain calories. You may avoid chewing gums with nutritive artificial sweeteners or normal sugar if you risk diabetes or insulin resistance in pregnancy. Some artificial sweeteners, including saccharin and cyclamate, are not good for maternal nutrition. Always read labels before purchasing and seek doctors’ opinions on the use of chewing gums to prevent any adverse effects on maternal health.
Infographic: Safe And Unsafe Artificial Gum Sweeteners During Pregnancy
Pregnant women may crave for chewing gums to ease their nausea. However, while chewing gums may be considerably safe, it is important to check the label for information on the ingredients as some of these artificial sweeteners may cause harm to the baby. The infographic below contains a list of safe and unsafe artificial sweeteners. Check out!
- It is important to consult a doctor before eating gum while pregnant because it might include artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors.
- Nutritive artificial sweeteners include empty calories and should be used carefully. Women who have gestational diabetes, insulin resistance, or diabetes mellitus should avoid consuming artificial Nutritive sweeteners.
- Non-nutritive sweeteners such as Aspartame and Sucralose can be consumed in moderation during pregnancy. However, consult your doctor first.
- It is best to avoid artificial sweeteners such as Acesulfame and Cyclamate when pregnant.
Are you wondering if chewing gum is safe during pregnancy and what would happen if you swallowed it? Find out in this video, where we discuss the safety and potential risks of gum while pregnant.
- Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for Use in Food in the United States.
- Chewing Gum Containing Vitamin-c to Treat Emesis Gravidarum.
- Atefeh Ebrahimian et al.; (2022); Comparison of the effectiveness of virtual reality and chewing mint gum on labor pain and anxiety: a randomized controlled trial.
- R Moazzez et al; (2005); The effect of chewing sugar-free gum on gastro-esophageal reflux.
- Cheryl Oncken et al., (2008); Nicotine Gum for Pregnant Smokers