freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Diet drinks linked with premature birth | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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Picked up a news story just now about how women who drink low-calorie soft drinks when they’re pregnant have a higher risk of having a premature birth. Ah, the age-old debate of artificial sweeteners raises its ugly head again.

The internet is chock-a-block with scare stories about artificial sweeteners such as aspartame – which is probably the most often-cited offender – with reports of how they cause almost every health problem you can think of, from headaches and nausea to cancer. Some experts ask why do we even bother with them, if there’s the slightest chance they could be risky, since they haven’t exactly cured the obesity epidemic, have they?

I tend to agree, but begrudgingly I have to admit that there’s very little hard evidence to suggest that artificial sweeteners (or low-calorie sweeteners to give them their proper name) are actually harmful when consumed in the recommended amounts.

This latest study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that women who drank one can of diet soda a day were 38 percent more likely to have their baby prematurely than women who didn’t touch the stuff, with those drinking four cans or more a day  80 percent more likely to deliver preterm. That sounds quite alarming, doesn’t it?

But when you look at the average number of premature births (let’s take the US figure, which is one in eight babies, or around 13 percent), that means the one-can-a-day pregnant woman has a 17 percent higher risk, while the four-can-a-day mom’s risk rises to 22 percent – which, I think you’ll agree, is far less significant.

Meanwhile, this week’s statement of the bleeding obvious comes courtesy of a study just published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. A team of undoubtedly well-intentioned researchers from the Prince of Wales hospital in Hong Kong followed couples who had suffered a miscarriage. And here’s what they found out: Men whose partners have a miscarriage suffer emotionally – but not as much as their partners do.

Now I’m sure the researchers had a very valid reason to carry out their study, but come on, did we really need them to ‘discover’ that? Perhaps they thought that miscarriages don’t affect men – well sorry, but I thought human relationships had evolved just a little in the 21st century. And if I was a man who had lost a child as a result of a miscarriage, I would, frankly, be insulted.

But perhaps that’s just me.