Are They Safe?

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Susan Warhus, MD

Your question:
Is Splenda or other artificial sweeteners okay to consume while breastfeeding? Is it okay to replace sugar with an artificial sweetener? I do not want to consume artificial sweeteners if it will harm my child.

Dr Warhus answers:
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Splenda and other sweeteners (such as NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet 'N Low) for consumption by the general public, including pregnant and breastfeeding women.

These sweeteners can be very useful for people trying to lose weight or watch their blood sugar because of diabetes.

Splenda contains sucralose, which is a made from sugar that has been chemically altered. NutraSweet and Equal both are made with aspartame, which is a protein building block. Aspartame poses a serious medical problem for people diagnosed with the rare genetic condition known as phenylketonuria, sometimes called PKU. Those with PKU or a strong family history of PKU are advised against using sweeteners made with aspartame.

Sweet 'N Low is comprised of saccharin. In the 1970s, the FDA was going to ban saccharin based on the reports of a Canadian study that showed that saccharin caused bladder cancer in rats. But additional research has shown that this is no longer a concern.

I'm glad that you are concerned about your health and the health of your newborn. Certainly not everything is known about these substances and as with most things, I would recommend that you use artificial sweeteners in moderation. You might also want to ask your baby's pediatrician what he/she thinks about using artificial sweeteners for your particular situation.


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