Artificial Sweeteners May Affect the Microbiome of the Baby and Increase the Risk of Obesity
The first study in rats has discovered changes in microbial populations and metabolism in babies whose mothers used sweeteners during pregnancy.
A new study looks into the link between sweetener consumption during pregnancy and a child’s obesity risk.
Pregnant rats fed stevia or aspartame had pups with an increased risk of obesity and changes in their gut microbiome.
The findings stress the significance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy.
Could artificial sweeteners raise your unborn child’s obesity risk and even alter their gut bacterial populations? That’s the question at the heart of a new study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, which finds that when rat mothers consumed sweeteners during pregnancy, their offspring had a higher body fat percentage.
Changes in gut microbial communities were also observed in the rat pups, with an increase in propionate- and butyrate-producing microbes and a decrease in lactose-fermenting species, which may explain the weight gain.
The findings indicate that a mother’s diet during pregnancy has a significant impact on her child’s obesity risk.
Low-calorie sweeteners are commonly used as a healthier alternative to sugar, but they may have unintended consequences during pregnancy.
While they are generally safe for adults, previous research suggests that prenatal consumption by mothers may have an impact on obesity risk and the microbiome of infants.
No one had looked into this in depth before to understand the specific changes in microbial populations and their possible link to obesity.
“We know that a mother’s diet during pregnancy has a significant impact on whether her offspring will develop certain diseases later in life,” said senior author Prof Raylene Reimer of the University of Calgary.
“We wanted to see how consuming low-calorie sweeteners during pregnancy, specifically the artificial sweetener aspartame or the natural sweetener stevia, affected the gut bacteria and obesity risk of offspring in this study.”
To find out, the researchers fed pregnant rats aspartame, stevia, or plain water.
The researchers weighed the rat pups and examined their gut microbiomes after the rats had given birth to see how the sweeteners had affected them.
Surprisingly, the sweeteners had only a minor impact on the mothers of the rats, but had a significant impact on their offspring.
Puppies born to mothers who ate sweeteners gained more weight, had a higher body fat percentage, and had significant changes in their gut microbiomes, according to the findings.
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