Experts claim expectant mothers should opt for water instead of artificially-sweetened drinks because the beverage could infect the fetus, sewing the seeds for weight issues in later life.
A new study found that women with gestational diabetes who drank a fake sugary drink once a day nearly doubled the risk of their child becoming obese by the age of seven.
The findings are substantial: a third of children are obese, which may lead to heart conditions when they become adults.
The study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health and said pregnant women tended to drink more because of the volume of amniotic fluid increase.
They found that these sugar-free beverages were no better for the child later on than sugary drinks.
The study looked at women who had gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy, with data collected from 1996 to 2002 by the Danish National Birth Cohort.
They compared women who drank artificially sweetened drinks, sugar drinks and water.
Women who only had water decreased the risk of their child becoming obese by 17 percent.
In addition to diet drinks increasing the risk of obesity, these children were 60 percent more likely to have a high birth weight, compared to women who drank only water.
The researchers acknowledged there needed to be more research done to confirm their findings and to explore why this connection exists.
Having artificially sweetened drinks during pregnancy can also lead to premature births.
A Danish study in 2010 found women who had one diet soda a day were 38 percent more likely to give birth prematurely than women who abstained from the fizzy drink.
This jumped up to 80 percent when the woman have more than four diet sodas a day.
The study of 60,000 women concluded that expecting mothers should have diet sodas in moderation.
Obesity in children is a growing epidemic as a third of US and UK children are overweight or obese.
These weight issues raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes much later in life, according to a University of Surrey study in May.
Children who were obese at the age of 10 were shown to have damaged arteries 25 years later – even if they lost weight in the intervening years.
The British study found obese children were more likely to develop pre-diabetes, thickened arteries and high blood pressure as adults – all problems which raise the risk of heart disease, strokes and other cardiovascular problems later in life.
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