U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Sweeteners detected in human breast milk

A team of researchers led by NIDDK Clinical Investigator Kristina Rother, M.D. has found that certain non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) are present in human breast milk.

The team collected breast milk samples from 20 lactating volunteers, irrespective of their habitual NNS intake. Saccharin, sucralose, and acesulfame-potassium were present in 65 percent of samples, and aspartame was not detected. Before this study, saccharin had been the only NNS reported to be found in human breast milk after maternal consumption. These new data show that multiple types of NNS can be passed to nursing infants.
 
The investigators also discovered that, of the six participants who did not knowingly ingest NNS, four of them had detectable levels in their breast milk. This supports the 2014 analysis suggesting many people do not recognize that NNS are present in various foods and beverages they consume.

More research is needed to determine how, if at all, exposure to NNS via breast milk affects infants.

“Since we don’t have information on the effects artificial sweeteners may have on infants, these findings are only a first step, but they represent an important development in our understanding of the topic,” said Rother.

Sylvetsky Meni AC, Gardner AL, Bauman V, Blau JE, Garraffo HM, Walter PJ, Rother KI. Non-nutritive sweeteners in breast milk. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 2015 Aug 12.