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Dangerous Aspartame Side Effects in Children

By Kathleen Jade, N.D.

Tags: aspartame, artificial sweetener, family health, Texas, Kathleen Jade ND, Natural Health Advisory,

Aspartame Side Effects in Children

After the dangers of refined sugar became widely known in the 1980s, the American food industry began replacing it with artificial sweeteners. As an added psychological bonus, these supposedly harmless molecules also reduced the caloric content of foods, making them popular for use in low-fat, light, and diet products. In addition to aspartame, synthetic chemical sweeteners are also known by the following chemical names: acesulfame potassium, neotame, saccharin, sucralose. Brand names include: NutraSweet, Equal, Sugar Twin, Sunett, Sweet One, Sweet & Safe, Splenda.

Foods that May Contain Aspartame

According to NutriSweet, a variety of foods are typically sweetened with aspartame.[1]

Carbonated soft drinks
Gelatin dessert
Hot chocolate
Fruit drinks (10% juice)
Breath mints
Ice cream
Chewing gum

Why Small Children are Vulnerable

While holistic doctors do not recommend aspartame consumption by anyone, children are especially susceptible. One or two packages of yogurt, gelatin, or fruit drinks can contain enough aspartame to put a baby over the FDA’s recommended intake limit of 50 mg/kg of body weight.[2]

Aspartame Side Effects Can Lead to Brain ImpairmentAspartame Side Effects

The body immediately breaks aspartame into aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol.[3] Methanol is further broken down into formaldehyde and formate. In adults, these compounds may not reach high enough levels to cause problems.[4] For babies, however, methanol can reach high enough levels to cause oxidative stress to the brain.[5] This is the same effect that is caused by free radicals. Chronic incidents of this stress will cause faster brain aging, and could contribute to the development of anxiety disorders, learning impairment, and depression.[3,6] Considering that babies may be exposed to multiple daily servings of the foods listed above, chronic effects are possible until the child becomes old enough to properly metabolize aspartame. Even then, some may experience long-term health consequences.


Also known as PKU, this is an inherited condition in which babies cannot break down phenylalanine. Aspartame can cause severe problems in children with PKU. This includes seizures, rashes, tremors, delayed mental skills, and impaired intellect.[7] All of these are results of excess phenylalanine in the blood. Considering that 50% of aspartame consists of phenylalanine, the sweetener contributes significantly to this problem. Children with PKU should never be given aspartame, even as they become older.

Blood sugar and insulin resistance

Aspartame side effects are intensified by monosodium glutamate (MSG). Studies demonstrate that aspartame alone increases the blood sugar of newborn mice by 60%, but when combined with MSG, the increase is 130%.[8] The research also concludes that subjects experience reduced insulin tolerance. Cells cannot absorb glucose or produce energy when they fail to respond to insulin. This leads to increased blood sugar, increased appetite, and decreased energy.

How to Avoid Synthetic Sweeteners

Anything that is labeled low sugar, diet, low calorie, light, or low fat is likely to contain an artificial sweetener of some kind. Carbonated beverages, fruit drinks, and yogurt can be especially high in aspartame. The best way to avoid aspartame is to entirely eliminate sweetened foods and drinks from the diet. If sugars are absolutely necessary, healthier choices include coconut sugar, agave nectar, and raw honey.


[1] NutraSweet Property Holdings, Inc. ©2003.

[2] Crit Rev Toxicol. 2007;37(8):629-727.

[3] Pharmacol Res. 2006 Jan;53(1):1-5.

[4] BMJ. Feb 5, 2005; 330(7486): 310.

[5] JBiosci.2012Sep;37(4):679-88.

[6] Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009 Apr-Jun; 2(2): 63-67.

[7]Pubmed Health. PKU; Neonatal phenylketonuria.

[] Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Jun 14;9(1):58.

4/9/2014 1:23:02 AM

Ms. Jade: The thrust of your article is completely misleading and incorrect. The sweetener aspartame (and its forthcoming analogs) is (are) broken down into its constituent amino acids and methanol. FYI, “digesting 185 milligrams of aspartame, which is the amount found in 330 ml (12 fl. oz.) of Diet Coke, releases 90 milligrams phenylalanine, 72 milligrams of aspartic acid, and 18 milligrams of methanol into the blood stream( Its constituent amino acids are more abundant from natural foods like meat and milk than from aspartame. Critics suggested there were issues with added intake of phenylalanine based on an early report by Wurtman. But Wurtman himself completely refuted his own earlier, but widely critic-cited allegation, that phenylalanine or aspartate caused any problem with their conclusion: “Large daily doses of aspartame had no effect on neuropsychologic, neurophysiologic, or behavioral functioning in healthy young adults,” Let's put the question of methanol being "toxic to the brain of infants" to rest using facts and numbers: there is 71 mg of methanol in a 8 fl.oz. of tomato juice and 20 mg in a medium banana, but only 18 mg of methanol in a Diet Coke( Thus aspartame is safer than a banana and nearly 4X safer than tomato juice. Some of the references you provide are seriously flawed. The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for aspartame is 50 mg/kg; that ADI is 25 mg/kg lower than the 75 mg/kg used in reference 5 . You should know, if you don’t, the fundamental principle of the science of poisons, toxicology: "everything is toxic, but everything also has a safe dose." Your reference 5 proves again that “everything is toxic”, but that has been known for only 600 years. Some of your other references are irrelevant [6] to this issue or are highly debatable [8]. In essence every relevant governmental health authority in the world disagrees with this assessment. In fact just late last year [10 December 2013] the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) completely revisited the issue and "EFSA completes full risk assessment on aspartame and concludes it is safe at current levels of exposure," Reality is that this matter is dead and over. But you are certainly well come to join Blaylock, Martini, Mercola, and others in the Encyclopedia of American Loons, They made it for a reason! John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition)

4/8/2014 8:45:00 AM

While the author tried to write a good article to protect babies and children unfortunately there is more serious information, and some errors. First of all, aspartame in original studies showed neural tube defects - autism, cleft palate and spina bifida. It is a teratogen. You can read the last chapter on aspartame and autism by going to Dr. Woodrow Monte wrote "While Science Sleeps: A Sweetener Kills." Secondly, there is no safe dose of aspartame. The medical text, "Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic" is 1000 pages on the horrors and diseases triggered or precipitated by aspartame. It was authored by the late world expert on aspartame, Dr. H. J. Roberts. Also check out "Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills" by neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock,M.D. You can email me for the Aspartame Resource Guide for more information from my web site, Also google "Rotgut Aspartame: Methanol Mania" and "No Safe Dose of Aspartame" or read from my web site under Aspatame News. Betty Martini, D.Hum, Mission Possible Intl