June 6 (UPI) -- A new study has found that children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank diet soda during pregnancy were more likely to be overweight or obese at age 7.
The study by the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, analyzed data from more than 900 pregnant women with gestational diabetes in Denmark from 1996 to 2002 who took part in the Danish National Birth Cohort. Participants completed a questionnaire on the foods they ate at the 25th week of pregnancy.
Roughly 9 percent of participants reported consuming at least one diet beverage a day, and their children were 60 percent more likely to have a high birth weight compared to women who did not drink diet beverages during pregnancy.
Researchers gathered data on the children's weight at birth and again at age 7, and found that children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank at least one diet beverage a day during pregnancy were twice as likely to be overweight or obese at age 7 than children born to women who had gestational diabetes but drank water during pregnancy.
"Our findings suggest that artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy are not likely to be any better at reducing the risk for later childhood obesity than sugar-sweetened beverages," Cuilin Zhang, of the Epidemiology Branch at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, or NICHD. "Not surprisingly, we also observed that children born to women who drank water instead of sweetened beverages were less likely to be obese by age 7."
There were no advantages to drinking artificially sweetened beverages overly sugar-sweetened beverages during pregnancy either, according to researchers.
The study did find that women who substituted water for sweetened beverages reduced their child's obesity risk by age 7 by 17 percent.