Stevia Leaf Extract During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Since consuming too much added sugar in your diet is a major concern during pregnancy, it is common for pregnant women to look for alternatives. This article will cover if the consumption of stevia leaf extract is safe for pregnancy or not.

Overall, the stevia leaf extract is a non-nutritive sweetener that is GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe, by the FDA. Therefore, it is safe for all individuals, including pregnant women. However, it is low in nutrition and, therefore, should be used in moderation.

Now, we will dive deeper into the information regarding stevia leaf extract and its effects during pregnancy. 

Is Stevia Leaf Safe During Pregnancy? 

Stevia plant leaf extract is safe for pregnancy. However, it’s important to note that the stevia leaf itself and crude stevia leaf extracts are not (source: FDA). 

It is recommended that women only consume six teaspoons or 25 grams of added sugar for daily intake (source: American Heart Association). Therefore, this leaves many pregnant women to look for healthier alternative sweeteners, such as stevia.

Stevia is known to be 200 to 400 times sweeter than regular granulated table sugar (source: United States Food and Drug Administration [FDA]). You may find stevia on the ingredient label of many juices, teas, sparkling waters, and diet sodas.

Stevia is classified as a non-nutritive sweetener, meaning a sweetener that does not contribute any calories, sugar, or nutrients.

Stevia Leaf During Pregnancy 

The stevia leaf itself is not considered GRAS or Generally Recognized As Safe by the FDA (source: FDA). Therefore, the leaves are not available for use as sweeteners in the United States. 

However, many extracts are safe – which is what we’ll cover next. If you should ever come across the leaves in their whole, untreated form – these are the ones to avoid when you’re pregnant.

stevia extract in a wooden bowl and stevia leaves

Stevia Extracts During Pregnancy 

On the other hand, the stevia leaf extract is also known as Rebaudioside A or Reb A (source: American Pregnancy Association). Reb A is the pure form of stevia or steviosides. This purified stevia extract is considered GRAS by the FDA, meaning it is safe for all individuals, including pregnant women. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that there is a significant lack of research on the adverse effects of stevia on pregnant women (source: Indian Journal of Pharmacology). Therefore, feel free to discuss the use of stevia and other artificial sweeteners with your physician. 

The stevia leaf extract is available to the public as a granulated powder with an appearance just like regular sugar. It can be used to sweeten beverages and can even be used in cooking and baking. 

However, crude stevia extracts are also considered unsafe and not imported into the United States (source: FDA). Should you come across them (particularly abroad), then these should be avoided.

Which Forms of Stevia are Safer for Pregnant Women? 

Most forms of stevia in the United States are about the same regarding safety during pregnancy. Truvia is a popular stevia sweetener brand that also contains erythritol. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is considered safe for consumption during pregnancy. This product is available in packets as well. 

Stevia in the Raw is another well-known brand that claims it does not have any added artificial flavors but is higher in purity, eliminating the product’s potential aftertaste.

However, it is essential to note that Stevia in the Raw is blended with dextrose and maltodextrin, according to their website. These ingredients are also considered safe during pregnancy. 

Stevia leaves, tablets and powder

If you do not want to use stevia, sucralose (commonly known as Splenda) and aspartame (also known as Equal or Nutrisweet) are also safe options. However, these alternatives are also non-nutritive and therefore have little nutritional benefits, so use them in moderation. 

Using non-nutritive sweeteners and sugar alternatives, such as stevia leaf extract, can benefit women diagnosed with gestational diabetes. With gestational diabetes, limiting the sugar you consume and using other sweeteners instead is important (source: University of California San Francisco). 

If you’re not sure which sugar replacement or sweetener is right for you, talk to your health professional.

Can Stevia Prevent Pregnancy or Cause Miscarriage? 

While many wonder if stevia consumption can prevent pregnancy or cause a miscarriage if you are already pregnant, there is no scientific evidence to back this up. 

You can safely use stevia before and during pregnancy without increasing the risk of these events occurring.

I hope you found this article helpful in discussing stevia and its safety during pregnancy!