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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Food Additives/Preservatives and Pregnancy

Aspartame is composed of two amino acids: phenylalanine and aspartic acid. The Food and Drug Administration has judged aspartame safe for the general public and it is safe to eat while pregnant. However, moms-to-be who have a genetic disease called phenylketonuria, or PKU, should not consume aspartame. PKU prevents sufferers from breaking down phenylalanine. If these women consume products that contain aspartame, the phenylalanine builds up in their bodies, possibly causing their babies to be born with severe mental disabilities. Fortunately, the FDA requires all products containing aspartame to be labeled as such, making it relatively easy for pregnant women with PKU to avoid consuming the substance.


Saccharin was one of the first artificial sweeteners on the market, but it is not used as frequently today. Saccharin can cross the placental barrier and enter the fetal blood stream. Although data from scientific studies is inconclusive, it is believed that a fetus is much slower to clear the saccharin from its blood and the accumulation may increase the risk for bladder problems or even bladder cancer.

Many doctors advise their patients to avoid saccharin while pregnant. The American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetes Association recommend that women consume saccharin in moderation while pregnant.

Splenda is the brand name for the low-calorie sweetener called sucralose. According to the Food and Drug Administration, sucralose is safe for the general public to consume. However, there have only been a limited number of scientific studies performed on the safety of sucralose and there have been no specific safety studies done on pregnant women and children.

All three artificial sweeteners - aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose - were created to reduce the calorie content of the foods in which they are used, and Olean was created to reduce the fat and calorie content. However, pregnant women need additional calories - up to 300 a day - and up to 30 percent of those should come from fat. Pregnancy is not the time to diet. Therefore, while most of these additives are considered relatively safe, they are not recommended for pregnant women for the simple reason that they are counterproductive to the special nutritional needs of you and your baby.

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