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Does diet soda cause autism in children? Study asks the question

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  • Staff Report 

A new study conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio reveals a potential correlation between the consumption of diet sodas or aspartame by mothers during pregnancy or breastfeeding and the diagnosis of autism in boys.

The study involved a comparative analysis between 235 children with an autism spectrum disorder and 121 without, using retrospective questionnaires completed by their parents. The questionnaires focused on the mothers’ intake of diet sodas and other aspartame-containing beverages while pregnant or breastfeeding.

The research revealed that boys with autism were more than three times as likely to have mothers who consumed diet soda daily during pregnancy or breastfeeding compared to boys without autism.

While the associations found do not establish causation, they do prompt further questions about the potential neurological impacts of such beverages and aspartame, necessitating more extensive research, as highlighted by the study authors. The study aligns with previous findings indicating potential health impacts on infants and children exposed to aspartame during pregnancy. However, no statistically significant association was observed in girls.

Despite the World Health Organization’s recent declaration of aspartame as a “possible” carcinogen, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains that the current evidence does not link aspartame to cancer, advising consumers to moderate their intake of products containing the sweetener. The researchers of the study also recommend cautious consumption of aspartame-containing products by mothers during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

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