I have a confession to make: I drank soda when I was pregnant. Like, sort of a lot of soda. Because I was pretty young at the time, young enough that I was still just excited to get to pick out my own food and such. My sons seem like they turned out pretty well, thankfully, but apparently I might have dodged something of a bullet. A new study found that drinking soda during pregnancy might not be a good idea, and now I get to feel retroactively guilty forever.
Researchers from Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts looked at 1,200 pregnant women to study the affects of drinking soda on their child's development, and the data suggests that it might not be great in the long run, as HealthDay reported. According to the study, which was initially published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, women who ingest higher amounts of sugar might be affecting their child's nonverbal problem-solving abilities and verbal memory skills. This is especially true when the sugar comes from sugar-sweetened drinks.
Now I drank diet sodas, but apparently they're not much better. Dr. Juliana Cohen, the lead author of the study, noted that drinking diet soda while pregnant appeared to be linked to decreased fine motor skills in children under 3, and weakened verbal skills by mid-childhood (around the age of 7), according to UPl.com.
All of which is to say... if you're really craving the sweet, delicious fizz of a cold soda during your pregnancy, it might not be such a great idea to drink one. Especially if you don't want your kids to struggle with memory and motor skills later in life.
Dr. Cohen had more bad news; when the kids themselves consumed sugar-sweetened drinks, that excess sugar was tied to memory loss and trouble with learning. As she told HealthDay:
Everyone wants what's best for their kids, and one way to keep your child from getting off on a poorer footing is to watch and limit added sugar intake, especially sugar-sweetened beverages like fruit drinks, sports drinks and sodas.
Apparently, eating whole fruits were a good way to improve visual motor skills and better verbal skills later in life. So there's another reason to make your kids eat their fruit, right?
So that was all of the bad news. Now here's the good news; Dr. Mitchell Kramer, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Huntington Hospital in New York, told UPI.com that women "shouldn't panic." Moderation is the key to all things, according to Kramer:
This study shows an association. It's not definitive that kids will have any issues. It's the chronic intake that's concerning.
If you're someone who drinks a little soda every now and then, maybe you shouldn't be overly worried here. Limiting your intake of high-sugar drinks or even diet sodas is probably a good idea, but it's really the "chronic intake" that is the big problem. The 1,200 pregnant women involved in the study drank an average of 120 to 200 calories every day in sugar, when the American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of sugar per day for women in children. According to UPI.com, Dr. Kramer recommended that his patients limit their sugar intake, especially now that this new study pointed to the long-term possible effects. "American diets are filled with sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages," he told the news outlet. "That they could have an impact on memory and learning is alarming."
At the end of the day, you need to make whatever choices feel right for you and your baby. If you want to drink a soda every now and then, that's totally up to you. But maybe drinking soda, like, exclusively isn't the best idea, you know?
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.