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Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe For Children?

By Dr. Janet Starr Hull

Have your kids been out of sorts lately?  Do they complain of more frequent tummy aches, malaise, mood swings or aggression?  Have you read the labels on what they are eating at home, at school, and away from the house?

“Consumption of even moderate amounts of aspartame during pregnancy may produce a dramatic increase in the number of children born with diminished brain function,” warned Diana Dow-Edwards, PhD research scientist, SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn, NY1.  Dow-Edward’s research began in the mid-1980s, but her early warnings of aspartame’s harmful effects on fetuses during pregnancy have fallen upon deaf ears.  With the rapid rise in mental illness amongst children, AD/HD and hyperactivity, depression, and lower IQs,  why hasn’t research such as Dow-Edward’s been considered as a probable cause for rising mental disease amongst modern children?  Why haven’t mothers been warned that artificial sweeteners can cause birth defects and mental retardation if taken at the time of conception and early pregnancy?

I can relate many case histories of children having mal seizures and other mental disturbances while using NutraSweet®. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to convince a mother that aspartame is to blame for her child's illnesses. Only by trial and success will she be able to warn other mothers to take their children's health into their own hands.

The manufacturers of Splenda even admit: "One should note, however, that foods made with low-calorie sweeteners are not normally a recommended part of a child's diet, since calories are important to a growing child's body."2

Pay attention to this statement....Children should not be encouraged to grow up on fake foods. But just like cigarettes and alcohol, “do what I say and not what I do?” And we wonder why the younger generation is angry, ill, and ridden with ADHD, depression, hypoglycemia, and diabetes.  How many kids do you see taking a sip of mom's diet cola or chewing a stick of sugar-free gum?

Children raised on chemical diets are more likely to develop physical and mental disorders, and as Dow-Edwards predicted, the evidence is surfacing at epidemic levels in America and other developed countries.  FDA toxicologist Dr. Jacqueline Verett told Congress at the time of aspartame’s approval in 1981 that “all aspartame studies were built on a foundation of sand and should be thrown out.”3 Has the FDA repeated aspartame’s questionable approval process for sucralose found in Splenda®, allowing a product with proven carcinogens to flood our food supply?  Only time will tell, as it has with aspartame. Yet at the cost of human lives.

As a parent, you’ll be the first one to notice health and behavioral changes in your children. Children are reacting to artificial sweeteners in harmful ways, but this aspect of the recent sweetener wars has gone unnoticed in the mainstream health community. The sweetener corporations market to children by placing soft drink machines in public elementary schools, and by influencing doctors that diet sweeteners don’t cause abnormal behavior and emotional stress in children. When you have exhausted all the other reasons for your child’s poor health or mental/emotional problems, then diet chemicals could be the culprit.

The chemicals in diet products are no doubt toxic, and the rise in the number of childhood diseases and mysterious health symptoms are proving to us, the public, that the use of artificial chemicals in a child’s diet disrupts normal development both emotionally and physically, especially before and during puberty when the human hormones have not yet fully developed.

Reactions to chemical sweeteners may vary among people, especially among children. Depression can hide behind a smiling face, a temper tantrum or hyperactivity. But don’t ignore the warning signs! Take away all the diet sugar substitutes immediately—and don’t forget that diet sweeteners are found in medications, too.

Here is a Rule of Thumb: Children who drink diet colas and eat foods with artificial sweeteners may be reacting to the chemicals in their foods when they express a depressed mood that stays around without letting up. Being “down in the dumps” over a period of time is not a normal part of growing up. Take away all diet food and drink products sweetened with artificial sugars, and eliminate processed foods replete with preservatives, food colorings and artificial chemicals. See if their mood returns to normal and if they resume their usual daily routine. This is the first place to start.

At the first sign of behavioral changes and depression, especially for a child, remove all artificial sweeteners and food chemicals from the diet. Even if your primary doctor doesn’t recognize the influences of diet sweeteners on depression or aggression, it does no harm to remove these toxic food chemicals and return to a natural, whole foods diet. Overall physical fitness and a balanced diet are crucial ways to avoid illnesses that can bring on depression, hyperactivity or anxiety symptoms in your children.

Knowledge is power.  As an educated consumer, you have the awareness to choose what you and your family will ingest.  Unnatural artificial sweeteners may affect your health.  Why take the chance, especially when it comes to your children?

1. Hull, JS. Sweet Poison: How The World’s Most Popular Artificial Sweetener Is Killing Us-My Story. New Horizon Press, 1997.

2. Sucralose:

3. Hull, JS. Sweet Poison: How The World’s Most Popular Artificial Sweetener Is Killing Us-My Story. New Horizon Press, 1997.

Posted on April 9, 2005 in Artificial Sweeteners | Link To This Entry | Comments (3)


Posted by: modelle on April 20, 2005 5:04 PM

My sister started consuming diet pepsi when she was seventeen adn is now 32 years old. She had siezures that the doctors could not explain. I do know that she waw consuming a cube of diet pepsi every two days. My sister has other health problems and i feel that it has all been caused by aspartame.


Posted by: Dr. Janet Hull on August 15, 2005 3:54 PM

Please consider suggesting your sister read Sweet Poison. While reading it she will begin to see her own story in the pages of the book. This will not only help her see that many of her symptoms very well could be aspartame reactions, it may also help convince her to quit consuming diet sodas.

Once your sister makes the decision to stop drinking diet sodas and they are cleared from her system, she will then have a chance to see which physical issues are truly present and which are aspartame reactions.

She will also see she is not alone in her struggle for health and well being.

Good luck with your efforts to help your sister.

Dr. Janet Hull


Posted by: Dolores Mc Kenna on September 11, 2005 11:14 AM

My daughter Connie is suffering unbearably from artificial sweetener poisoning with a $ 24,000 hospital bill and doctors stating can't find out what is wrong with her. Nine months of living hell and loosing her house and no help from Social Security or SSI. Doctors refuse to acknowledge because of stupidity.


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