Link between Early Life Aspartame Intake & Autism in Males: The Autism Tooth Fairy Study
In the last forty years, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses in the United States (US) have increased significantly, especially among males. Diagnostic changes and more testing contribute to this rise. Additionally, maternal dietary factors, including aspartame consumption, have been suggested as potential influences. Aspartame, a common sweetener, breaks down into metabolites that could impact neurological function. The safety and its effect on neurological health have been subjects of ongoing debate.
The Study: Daily Early-Life Exposures to Diet Soda and Aspartame Are Associated with Autism in Males: A Case-Control Study
The Autism Tooth Fairy Study, conducted between 2011 and 2014 at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), mainly recruited participants from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN). The IAN registry included 21,600 individuals diagnosed with ASD along with their parents. In the study, there were 356 children, consisting of 235 with ASD and 121 controls. Parents supplied demographic data and details about their children’s ASD-related diagnoses. Children with specific ASD forms were categorized as cases, while those without developmental issues served as controls. Additionally, the study explored their speech regression patterns.
A significant component of the study was mothers’ recall of their consumption habits during pregnancy and breastfeeding, specifically concerning diet drinks and low-calorie sweeteners, such as Sweet ‘N Low, Equal, and Splenda. The study had two main focal points: identifying autism disorders and any ASD type. Emphasis was placed on evaluating the early-life exposure of offspring to aspartame and other non-nutritive sweeteners. They utilized multilevel mixed-effects generalized linear models for data analysis and determined odds ratios for directions to certain products.
Lastly, a sensitivity analysis explored the correlation between demographic factors like income, education level, ethnicity, and maternal consumption patterns. They used the Stata/IC 14.2 software for statistical analysis, highlighting any significant disparities among demographic subsets.
In the Autism Tooth Fairy Study, the sample composition included 257 boys, with 203 diagnosed with ASD and 54 as controls. There were 99 girls, of which 32 had ASD diagnoses, and 67 were controls. Maternal education among participants was notably high. Over 60% of mothers across all diagnostic and sex subgroups held college degrees. Similarly, more than 60% of families reported incomes surpassing the 2010 US median of USD 50,000.
The study found a link between daily diet soda consumption during pregnancy or breastfeeding by mothers and an increased risk of autism in male offspring. The researchers investigated the association between maternal daily consumption of diet sodas or aspartame during pregnancy and the risk of autism in offspring. The findings suggest that pregnant or breastfeeding women who consume diet soda or other foods and drinks containing aspartame could experience higher rates of autism diagnoses in their sons.
This study emphasizes a possible link between mothers consuming diet soda daily while pregnant or breastfeeding and a higher risk of autism in their male offspring. But, more research is necessary to confirm a cause-and-effect relationship between early-life aspartame consumption and autism spectrum disorders.
Please note that this content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding your specific situation.