The following two questions came into the Aspartame Resource Center. We asked Nancy Anderson, RD to respond.
Is aspartame safe for pregnant women?
According to human studies, aspartame is safe for pregnant women and does not pose any risk to the unborn baby. Even when administered in extremely high doses, up to 6 times the 99th percentile of the projected daily intake (200 mg/kg), no evidence of risk to the fetus was observed. Aspartame is broken down into three components: aspartic acid, methanol, and phenylalanine, all of which occur widely in common foods we eat every day. Aspartic acid, or aspartate, does not readily cross the placenta. "Abuse" doses of aspartame did not lead to measurable elevations of any metabolic compounds of concern. This is true both for normal individuals and for those women who are heterozygous (carriers) for the PKU trait.
Is aspartame safe while breastfeeding? If you consume aspartame and breastfeed, will the babies get upset stomachs?
During the process of digestion, aspartame is broken down into three components: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol, all of which occur naturally in a wide variety of foods we eat every day, including cheese, eggs, fish, and even breastmilk. According to a study reviewing the safety of aspartame consumption during pregnancy, after the mother has consumed aspartame, there is no difference in total levels of amino acids ingested by the breastfed infant after the mother has consumed aspartame. Therefore, there is no reason that breastfed babies whose mothers consume aspartame are any more likely to have upset stomachs that those whose mothers do not consume aspartame. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition Task Force has concluded that aspartame is safe for both the mother and the developing baby.
Nancy Anderson, Atlanta, GA, is a registered dietitian and provides expert counsel to the Aspartame Resource Center.