Is Stevia Safe During Pregnancy

Kimberly A. Tessmer's picture

QUESTION

Dear Nutritionist,
I have a question about the use of Stevia leaf during pregnancy. I have been told it is safe to use because it is a natural sweetener with no calories and does not affect blood sugar levels. Is this true?

Thanks,
Chelsea

ANSWER

Chelsea,
Stevia is an herb. This new and common sweetner is frequently used in soft drinks and juices. The FDA deems Stevia as safe during pregnancy; it has been give the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) rating by the FDA.

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recognizes that the recommendation for use of artificial sweeteners during pregnancy must be based on well-designed and approved clinical studies to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. During pregnancy, the ADA says that use of aspartame (i.e., Nutrasweet, Equal) and acesulfame-K (i.e., Sunett) within FDA guidelines appear safe for pregnant women when consumed in moderation and within the context of a diet consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, pregnant women should avoid the use of saccharin. According to the ADA, saccharin can cross the placenta and may remain in fetal tissues due to slow fetal clearance. The FDA has currently approved saccharin on an interim basis pending further studies.

Hope that helps you out!
-- Kimberly, RD LD