Consumption of sweeteners during pregnancy may affect microbiome of baby, according to study

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A new study published by Frontiers in Nutrition found when pregnant rats were given sweeteners, their offspring had changes in their gut microbial communities and were more likely to have higher body fat percentages than pups of rat mothers who did not consume sweeteners.

Led by Weilan Wang, PhD, the study fed pregnant rats stevia or aspartame. Researchers then studied the effects of the sweeteners on the rat mothers’ and their offspring’ microbiomes as well as weight. Results showed an increase in propionate and butyrate-producing microbes as well as a decrease in lactose-fermenting species in the gut microbiomes of the rat pups whose mothers were fed sweeteners. Offspring of rat mothers fed sweeteners also had higher body fat percentages. Researchers determined increases in body fat may be due to alternations in microbial caused by sweeteners. Effects on mother rats fed sweeteners were minimal.

Although this study was conducted on rats and cannot be directly applied to humans, these results do support similar studies which have shown a link between consumption of sweeteners during pregnancy and higher infant body mass index.

The integrative healthcare community should take note to this article as it applies to patient care planning and nutrition consultation, especially for pregnant patients.