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Can Drinking Soda Make Your Unborn Child Hyper?

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell, studioD

It should come as no surprise that a considerable number of women enjoyed drinking soda before becoming pregnant and may continue the habit while carrying a baby. A 2012 Gallup poll revealed that 48 percent of Americans consume one or more glasses of soda each day. Pregnant women who are concerned about how drinking soda might affect their unborn child -- specifically whether it leads to hyperactivity -- should note that it's not so much the soda itself as it is the caffeine it often contains that might be an issue.

Hypertension and Hyperactivity

An article published in July 2013 in the "Nutrition Journal" suggests that less-than-stellar nutritional habits during pregnancy -- which could include drinking several glasses or cans of cola day in and day out instead of opting for water, milk or juice -- has been associated with hypertension or high blood pressure in unborn babies. Children with high blood pressure are more apt to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study published in November 2010, in the journal "Pediatrics."

Can Caffeine Induce Labor?

Caffeinated beverages -- at least when consumed in large amounts -- don't appear to mix well with pregnancy. A number of animal studies propose that consuming caffeine while pregnant can trigger premature labor and delivery. Low birth weight babies such as preemies -- who weigh about 2.5 pounds at 28 weeks gestation or 4.2 pounds at 32 weeks -- may be more likely to develop ADHD, points out WebMD.

Less Is Plenty

Drinking a moderate amount of caffeinated soda is probably safe for your unborn child, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The "moderate" range is generally defined as 150 mg to 300 mg per day. For example, a 12-ounce can of Diet Coke contains anywhere from 38 to 47 mg while the same amount of Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper has 46 to 55 mg. It should be noted, however, that obstetricians vary in the advice that they give their patients about what's considered a safe level of caffeine during pregnancy. You might want to switch to non-caffeinated sodas like 7-Up, Fresca or Caffeine-Free Coke or Pepsi to be on the safe side.

Liquids Are Important

Although it might be tempting to assume that cutting back on caffeinated sodas will lower the risk of hyperactivity in your unborn child, talk to your doctor about what if any effect it may have. Remember that it's critical to keep your body well-hydrated. Pregnant women should aim for around 10 cups of liquids such as water or juice per day, advises Women's Health, a website published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pregnant women who are dehydrated run the risk of going into labor early.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

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