Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.
Hi Amanda, I am wondering what is the research on artificial sweeteners and breastfeeding?
This is an area that surprisingly lacks a lot of research. There are many sweeteners on the market, including some that claim to be natural, so it can get confusing. Luckily, there is a fantastic go-to resource I often recommend for questions about food and medication safety and breastfeeding.
The Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University has a great website where you can look up many foods, additives and medications. They also have a free app that you can download called MommyMeds. In addition, they have a hotline that you can call to discuss any questions about medication safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
As to your question about artificial sweeteners, with NutraSweet/Equal (Aspartame), no adverse effects have been reported in infants, likely because milk levels are too low to produce significant side effects. The only contraindication is in infants with Phenylketonuria.
Newer sweeteners such as Stevia have not been studied as thoroughly yet, and for this reason, they are not indicated for use during breastfeeding. There have been no adverse outcomes reported, there is just not enough data to make a recommendation.
Other sweeteners are listed in this resource as well, so be sure to check it out. And, keep the great questions coming!