Alcohol is bad during pregnancy. We know that and hence some pregnant women replace liquor with soda and diet soda during celebrations and parties. The idea behind this is that soda contains simpler ingredients such as carbonated water, sugar or artificial sweetener, and flavoring that seem harmless. But sodas are more complicated than they seem and their additives could have adverse effects on you and your unborn child.
So is it safe to have soda during pregnancy? What about diet soda while pregnant? We address these questions in this MomJunction post. Read on.
Is Soda And Diet Soda Safe During Pregnancy?
Drinking diet soda and soda while pregnant is safe when these beverages are consumed in moderation. If you take them occasionally and in limited quantities, then soda or diet soda should not affect the growing fetus.
[Read: Healthy Drinks During Pregnancy]
How Much Soda Can You Drink When You Are Pregnant?
It is safe to consume no more than one serving (330ml) of soda or diet soda per day. Studies have shown that women who drink soda and diet soda during pregnancy more than this quantity have a higher risk of having a preterm birth (1). The risk is the same whether soda contains sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Caffeine in soda is the second significant additive after sugar. It may make you feel refreshed but it has a shady reputation of being subtly harmful. Despite that, little is known about the exact way it affects the developing fetus.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist recommends that a pregnant woman consumes no more than 200mg of caffeine per day (2). An average soda can of 330ml has anywhere between 32-42mg of added caffeine (3). One can is about one serving, therefore, if you limit your consumption to one can a day then you are safe.
Ingredients Of Soda And Diet Soda And Their Effect On Pregnancy
Soda is a concoction made from a mix of several ingredients. The ingredients are listed below and how they affect your body during pregnancy:
1. Carbonated water
It acts as the base to dissolve other ingredients. Carbonated water contains carbon dioxide as the main ingredient, which adds the fizzy bubbles to the drink. Plain carbonated water should only include the gas, but most manufacturers add other minerals like sodium and potassium. Sodium may increase your blood pressure, and a constant high pressure can be dangerous for your baby.
[Read: Soft Drinks During Pregnancy]
There are varying amounts of caffeine in different soda beverages. Here is a chart that gives you an overview of the quantities:
|Coke||12oz (355 ml)||35mg|
|Diet Coke||12oz (355 ml)||47mg|
|Pepsi||12oz (355 ml)||38mg|
|Diet Pepsi||12oz (355 ml)||36mg|
|Jolt Cola||12oz (355 ml)||72mg|
|Mountain Dew||12oz (355 ml)||54mg|
|7-Up||12oz (355 ml)||0mg|
|Sierra Mist||12oz (355 ml)||0mg|
|Sprite||12oz (355 ml)||0mg|
The recommended quantity of caffeine during pregnancy is no more than 200mg a day. It is a compound that stimulates the central nervous system and glands like the adrenal gland. More caffeine than this can have long term effects on the health of the growing fetus.
Research has shown that the consumption of more than 300mg of caffeine a day can lead to a miscarriage (4). Women who consume more than 500mg per day may give birth to babies with chronic high breathing and heartbeat. Also, caffeine stays in a woman’s body for 11 hours but can be up to 100 hours in the fetus as the baby’s growing organs have a tough time processing this substance.
Sugars provide sweetness, but they also give you surplus calories. It is, per se, not bad for the health of a pregnant woman but when consumed in high quantities can cause the mother to become overweight or obese. On an average, there is about 35g of sugar in 330ml of sweetened soda (5). High consumption of sweetened soda can even lead to obesity, which in turn can affect the health of the fetus through problems ranging from congenital disabilities to miscarriage (6).
[Read: Is It Safe Coke During Pregnancy]
4. Artificial sweetener (in diet soda):
Many women resort to ‘diet’ version of their favourite soda since it replaces sugar with little or zero calorie artificial sweetener. Artificial sweeteners bind with the taste receptors for sweetness on the tongue thus giving the sweet taste but without the calorific value of real sugar. But not all artificial sweeteners are safe, and their effects on pregnant women are debatable. The US Food and Drug Administration considers most artificial sweeteners safe for pregnant women (7). Following is a list of safe and unsafe artificial sweeteners during pregnancy:
- Aspartame, although safe, should not be used by pregnant women suffering from the condition called phenylketonuria, a rare liver disorder, where the organ is unable to process the compounds present in this sweetener.
- Cyclamate is banned in countries like the US.
Some soda products may not contain caffeine, but they will certainly have flavoring, which gives the beverage its taste and color. The exact nature of the substance is usually a fiercely guarded trade secret. However, phosphoric acid is an openly acknowledged flavoring additive in soda drinks (8). It puts the tartness in a soda beverage but on the flipside can leach out calcium from the bones due to the phosphorus’s ability to bind with calcium, which is present in abundance in bones (9). They can make bones brittle, which is not a good circumstance for a woman bearing a baby.
[Read: Baking Soda During Pregnancy]
Harmful Effects Of Soda During Pregnancy
Let’s sum up the possible adverse effects of soda and diet soda during pregnancy:
- Increase in blood pressure due to the presence of sodium in the carbonated water.
- Loss of calcium from bones. Phosphoric acid, a flavouring substance for tartness, binds with the bones, causing loss of calcium from bones thus making them weak.3. Increases the risks of miscarriage. High consumption of caffeine and sugar can lead to a loss of the pregnancy before 20 weeks of gestation.
- Can cause birth defects. Surplus consumption of caffeine can cause congenital disabilities or birth defects like a high rate of breathing and heartbeat.
- May lead to overweight babies. Excess artificial sweetener could cause the birth of an overweight newborn.
Soda could be a refreshing replacement to alcoholic beverages but is not worth the risk during your precious months. It is better to stay safe and stay off from sodas during the gestation period. This not only ensures healthy growth of the fetus but also prevents any congenital defects in the baby at birth.
We hope you found the information on soda and diet soda during pregnancy useful. Tell us how you stay away from diet soda during your pregnancy months? Leave your comment in the section below.
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