Boys’ Autism Risk and Maternal Diet Soda: New Study Findings

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NEW YORK, Sept 27, (Agencies): A recent study has raised concerns about a potential connection between maternal consumption of aspartame-containing products, including diet soda, during pregnancy and higher rates of autism diagnoses in male offspring. The research, conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, indicated that boys diagnosed with autism were three times more likely to have mothers who reported consuming at least one diet soda per day or an equivalent amount of aspartame found in five tabletop packets.

Although the study does not establish a causal relationship, it serves as a significant warning signal. Lead author Sharon Parten Fowler emphasized that the findings highlight the need for further investigation into the potential risks associated with maternal aspartame consumption during pregnancy or nursing.

The study analyzed the reported aspartame consumption of 235 mothers of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and compared the results with a control group of 121 children with typical neurological development. Notably, the study revealed an association between daily exposure to aspartame-sweetened products during pregnancy or breastfeeding and a higher risk of autism diagnoses in boys. However, this link did not extend to girls or all forms of autism spectrum disorder.

The odds of a boy with autism having daily exposure to these products increased with the severity and early onset of the condition, as well as the mother’s use of aspartame-sweetened diet sodas and packets.

While the study has generated significant interest, it has limitations, including the retrospective collection of dietary data and a predominantly male autism case sample. Researchers stress the importance of conducting larger, prospective studies with a more balanced gender distribution and additional risk factor assessments.

This study contributes to a growing body of research suggesting potential health risks associated with the consumption of aspartame during pregnancy. Pregnant or nursing women are advised to exercise caution and consider alternative beverage options, such as natural-flavored water, to reduce potential risks to their unborn children.

Dr. Robert Melillo, a prominent autism researcher, believes that environmental factors play a significant role in the increasing prevalence of autism and supports the study’s findings. He suggests that avoiding aspartame-containing products during pregnancy may help lower the risk of developmental disabilities in children.

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