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Aspartame and Pregnancy What are the risks?

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I recently watched a documentary called Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World by Cori Brackett which was an eye opening expose on the potential health effects associated with aspartame consumption. This got me thinking what other complications could be caused by aspartame? And what if a mother to be happens to consume aspartame while pregnant? How would that affect the fetus? Big questions, which needed big answers.

First I needed to find out the facts. So what is exactly s in aspartame?

Aspartame is a synthetic chemical combination which is comprised of approximately 50% phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid, and 10% methanol.

So what are the consequences of ingesting these ingredients? According to NaturalNews.com:

Phenylalanine: Even a single use of Aspartame raises the blood phenylalanine levels. High blood phenylalanine can be concentrated in parts of the brain and is especially dangerous for infants and fetuses. Because it is metabolized much more efficiently by rodents than humans, testing and research on rats alone is not sufficient enough to denounce the dangers of Aspartame for human consumption. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain cause serotonin levels to decrease, leading to emotional disorders like depression.

Aspartic Acid: Aspartic acid is considered an excito-toxin, which means it over stimulates certain neurons in the body until they die. Much like nitrates and MSG, aspartic acid can cause amino acid imbalances in the body and result in the interruption of normal neurotransmitter metabolism of the brain. (http://www.holisticmed.net/aspartame/aminoacid.pdf)

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Methanol becomes Formaldehyde (Embalming fluid): The most prominent danger of Aspartame is that when ingested, the methanol (wood alcohol) is distributed throughout the body, including the brain, muscle, fat and nervous tissues, and is then metabolized to form formaldehyde, which enters cells and binds to proteins and genetic material (DNA). Methanol is a dangerous neurotoxin and a known carcinogen, which causes retinal damage in the eye, interferes with DNA processes, and can cause birth defects. (http://aspartame.mercola.com/)

Wow that is some powerful stuff.

A few more facts just in case the above information did not get your attention. Aspartic Acid, is known as an excitotoxin which contributes to free radical damage in the brain and literally “excites” brain cells to death. Methanol or wood alcohol is described by Dr. H.J. Roberts as “a real poison” which can’t be good. And finally phenylalanine which deserves a bit more explaining.

You see if you are pregnant and just so happen to have a genetic disorder known as Phenylketonuria, or PKU and you consume aspartame you are twice as likely to give birth to a child with brain damage. Why because women with this genetic disorder are unable to metabolize phenylalanine. How do you know if you have PKU? You won’t unless you specifically ask to be tested for it. There are no symptoms associated with this disorder. Here is a chilling thought some doctors recommend diet products to their pregnant patients to help them keep their weight down. Yikes.

What about women who are fortunate enough not to carry the gene for PKU? Maybe you are one of those women thinking that perhaps aspartame affects some people, but not you. “I can have aspartame and it doesn’t affect me at all”, states Dr. Blaylock, describing the comments of many of his patients. But according to Dr. Blaylock, “over many years, one will start to see obvious disease in those persons”. Those diseases can range from lupus and fibromyalgia to multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease.

Cori Bracket the author of Sweet Misery thought that aspartame didn’t affect her either. She used to define herself by the diet soda she had in her hand and did not feel like she was herself without it constantly being there. Twenty years later, multiple sclerosis was her diagnosis, which created great health problems for a relatively short while and large bureaucratic issues for a long time after that. She was one of the fortunate ones. During her interviews for Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, she met with two people who had to undergo surgery to remove tumors from their brains.

In addition to being implicated in the diseases above, aspartame has also been linked to such disorders as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Parkinson’s disease and recurrent seizures. Another problem associated with aspartame use is infertility. Dr. Madelon Price writes, “I showed (in rodents) that both amino acids [in aspartame] freely enter the arcuate nucleus and (at low dose) cause inappropriate release of hormones, and at high dose actually destroy these regulatory neurons. That is why sexual dysfunction is associated with aspartame & MSG” (2)

According to this statement, the first issue in pregnancy resulting from aspartame is in getting pregnant in the first place. Cori also asked Dr. Blaylock about fertility and pregnancy. His response was “a number of studies have shown reduced fertility in both males and females – shrunken testes and ovaries were seen in the original studies by the makers of aspartame… we see reduction in the gonadotrophins-ICSH, FSH, LH and prolactin. In addition there are direct effects on the sperm and ova” (3).

Let’s say that you are one of the lucky ones and little junior is already growing and getting ready to appear in the world. Let’s say, also, that you are not among the many silent and unaware carriers for the PKU gene. Cori wanted to know the effects of aspartame on a fetus like yours, and, as a result, she corresponded with Dr. Blaylock about this issue. Below is there interview:

Cori: What about women who are reading this article and are currently pregnant. They might not have known about the harmful effects of aspartame before. Is it safe for them to stop midway through?

Blaylock: They must stop the toxic exposure immediately. As for things to do – see [the last] question.

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Cori: What about women who are willing to cut back but not quit entirely during pregnancy? Is there a safe level of aspartame consumption if so far they have been able to tolerate it well?

Dr. Blaylock: No, because of the property of formaldehyde to cause accumulative damage to DNA. It has been shown that the formaldehyde formed from aspartame binds very tightly to DNA, RNA, and proteins. So even one diet cola a day can cause damage. Of course the effect is dose-dependent – meaning the more you ingest the worse the toxicity.

Cori: And women who have drunk diet soda/consumed diet products for several years and then got pregnant and quit – can aspartame affect them and their unborn children?

Dr. Blaylock: It can because of the ability of aspartame (methanol) to cause accumulative DNA damage – which would include both sperm and the ova. By improving DNA repair, she may be able to correct much of this damage. For example, methylcobalamin, folate, B6 and niacinamide can all improve DNA repair.

Cori: Does aspartame affect the potential for miscarriage?

Dr. Blaylock: Theoretically, yes. There is no hard data on the relationship.

Cori: What are some other results of aspartame consumption during pregnancy on an unborn child of non-PKU carriers?

Dr. Blaylock: They would be the same as the PKU-carrier mom. The difference would be the dose. The placenta concentrates phenylalanine so that the baby’s exposure is 2X that of the mother’s. MSG in the mother’s diet increases the excitotoxic effect of the aspartate in the aspartame.

Cori: Are there any supplements or things that pregnant women can do to protect themselves from a toxic food supply?

Dr. Blaylock: There are many things. For a more complete discussion see my book – Health and Nutrition Secrets . Most toxins cause damage by generating free radicals. Therefore, the antioxidants are very important – vitamin C, E, the carotenoids, magnesium, selenium, zinc, the flavonoids and alpha-lipoic acid. The omega-3 fatty acids are critical for the growth and development of a child’s brain – especially the DHA component. Vitamin D3 is critical for proper immune development and control of immune reactions. The B vitamins are critical for the development of the child’s brain and for maximal function. Methylcobalamin, folate, B6, B1, DHA and a number of flavonoids protect against excitotoxicity (4).

According to Dr. H.J. Roberts, an advertisement by Ajinomoto, one of the makers of aspartame, speaks to this very question (5): it features a baby suckling on the breast of its mother. Underneath the drawing, is a caption that reads: “Remember the first time you tasted aspartame?” This seemingly nostalgic statement implies, does it not, that aspartame is passed through breast milk to the nursing child? If this is true, then every mother affects her child by doing something as seemingly natural as breast-feeding.

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Everyday toxins assault the body. According to Dr. Blaylock in Sweet Misery, a number of things can result in a porous blood-brain barrier including aging, hypoglycemia and extreme exercise. In Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Dr. Blaylock states, “There are several conditions during which the placental barrier could possibly become incompetent.” (6)Dr. Roberts mentions in his book, Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, “Brain growth is maximum during the third trimester of pregnancy and the first year of life. Consequently, elevated phenylalanine concentrations are likely to cause harm during these critical periods.” (7)Given this, it seems reasonable to assume that prudence should come into play during pregnancy. I sure don’t want my friend to be careless.

While I have never been pregnant, I continue to feel hopeful about upcoming generations. Everywhere I go, I continue to notice more concerned and aware young people making conscious choices to preserve their health with better foods. As a society, we are beginning to become more attuned to the world around us and how the foods that we choose to ingest into our bodies can affect us and our unborn children.

Want more information? Read my other articles on aspartame and the potential health risks associated with its use.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cori Brackett is one of the producers of the documentary, Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World , which explores the harmful effects of aspartame and how it was passed through the FDA. Sweet Misery was born as a result of Cori’s own diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, combined with her longtime consumption of aspartame-containing products. A freelance writer and co-owner of Sound and Fury Productions, Cori is also the author of Through the Shadows, an exploration in poetry and prose — a book designed to remove what alienates the sick from the healthy. She lives in Tucson, Arizona. www.soundandfury.tv and www.sweetremedy.tv.

This article first appeared on Children of the New Earth Magazine(www.childrenofthenewearth.com) and is reprinted here with the publisher’spermission.

Michelle Toole
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Michelle Toole

Michelle Toole is the founder and head editor of Healthy Holistic Living. Learn all about her life's inspiration and journey to health and wellness.
Michelle Toole
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