(WTTV/WXIN) — A new study is raising new concerns about the potential links between diet soda and autism.
Specifically, it points to a possible link between pregnant women drinking diet soda and autism in baby boys.
The study, which was conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, followed more than 350 children and their mothers.
The university said the study found boys diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder were more than 3x as likely to have mothers who drank one or more diet sodas, or similar amounts of the artificial sweetener Aspartame, per day while pregnant. The study did not find any significant link involving baby girls.
While the study was small and does not prove causality, it does raise more questions about the potential neurological impacts of aspartame.
“Our findings contribute to the growing literature raising concerns about potential offspring harm from maternal diet beverage and aspartame consumption during pregnancy,” said Raymond F. Palmer, Ph.D.
This is just the latest concern raised about the artificial sweetener.
Another study, published earlier this year by the World Health Organization, labeled aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
However, the WHO findings are being debated because the Food And Drug Administration responded by saying the study does not mean aspartame is actually linked to cancer. The result has been a flurry of mixed messages on social media, including dietician influencers who have called the WHO findings “clickbait.”
At the same time, the authors of this latest study say more analysis needs to be done on Aspartame’s long-term effects.
“The findings suggest that women should exercise caution when considering the use of these products during pregnancy and breastfeeding until further assessments are available,” said Sharon Parten Fowler, PhD, MPH.