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Diet Coke and Pregnancy – Is it Safe?

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to make healthy choices as much as possible and to avoid things that have the potential to harm you or your baby. There are a great number of things that we know will cause harm to you or your growing baby during pregnancy, and there are other things we know are safe. But then there’s a large category of things that fall into a gray area, that are neither beneficial nor particularly harmful. In the gray area, you come into the realm of judgment – yours and that of your health care provider. And that's where Diet Coke falls.

There are three things to consider when it comes to the safety of Diet Coke during pregnancy (or any other soda beverage, for that matter). First is the matter of nutrition. Diet Coke has no nutritional value. Neither does any other soda. This means that you’re taking in fluid that isn’t particularly beneficial for your body or your baby. That effort could be better spent by drinking a more beneficial beverage, like water or milk. So on the nutritional front, Diet Coke is safe, but not a good choice.

The second consideration has to be caffeine. Beverages containing caffeine are generally considered safe in limited amounts during pregnancy. However, these beverages can have a dehydrating effect, so you need to be sure to include extra liquids if you do consume caffeine. You can, of course, opt for caffeine-free Diet Coke. But again, you have the same problems as before – that Diet Coke has no nutritional value. Even a cup of coffee made with milk offers minimal nutrition from the milk, giving you some small compensation for the caffeine you’re ingesting. So on the caffeine front, Diet Coke is safe in limited quantities, but still not the best fluid choice you could make.

Finally, there’s the matter of the artificial sweeteners. Everyone knows the dangers of too much sugar, but when it comes to artificial sweeteners, there’s still controversy. Most clinical studies have found that artificial sweeteners are safe when used in reasonable amounts. The question is what a reasonable amount is for an adult and what a reasonable amount is for a baby who weighs less than a pound. No studies have been done on the safety of artificial sweeteners for babies in utero, although most experts recommend not giving artificially sweetened products to children under the age of two. However, the FDA says that aspartame, acesulfame-K, and sucralose are safe in moderation for pregnant women.

However, there are individuals for whom the ingestion of artificial sweeteners causes significant discomfort, including headaches and other symptoms that indicate an intolerance for these products. If you fall into this category, you should definitely avoid Diet Coke or any other product made with artificial sweeteners during your pregnancy.

So the answer basically is yes, Diet Coke is safe to drink in moderation during pregnancy. Although you’re better off drinking water, milk, the occasional glass of juice or a fruit smoothie, it won’t hurt you or your baby to give into your Diet Coke craving every so often.

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