Aspiring mothers, it might be time to put down that can of your favorite diet drink. Recent research on women undergoing fertility treatments found that frequent consumption of the artificial sweeteners commonly found in these beverages significantly decreased their chances of conceiving a child.
In a report this week to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine congress, researchers from Federal University in Sao Paulo revealed their findings on the link between chemical sweeteners and fertility. The test group included 524 female patients, all of whom were going through the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process, during which fertilization is completed manually in a lab and transferred to the uterus.
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Prior to beginning the treatment, each of the participants completed a survey regarding their day-to-day food and drink habits—including artificially sweetened coffee and soft drinks. Researchers found that the women who frequently consumed diet soft drinks not only had a lower egg and embryo quality, but that their implantation and pregnancy rates were also lowered significantly. All of these factors were similarly impacted by the consumption of coffee sweetened artificially. Though the consumption of unsweetened coffee didn't have any apparent effect on any of the fertility factors, coffee sweetened with real sugar was shown to decrease egg quality.
"This is a very interesting study that suggests the false promise of artificial sweeteners," Adam Balen, Chairman of the British Fertility Society tells The Telegraph.
While Balen says that "there should be more scrutiny of food additives and better information available to the public and, in particular, those wishing to conceive," other experts note there is reason to be skeptical of this new research. One spokesman from the British Dietetic Association says the number of bodily factors not taken into account during this study—including weight—could have skewed the results. However, Balen still believes "these findings are highly significant to our population," and should be considered by any woman hoping to conceive.