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The Effects of Sugar on Breastfed Babies

By Leigh Good ; Updated April 18, 2017

Breastfeeding your infant provides her with essential nutrients and vitamins. Your breast milk is custom-made to meet your baby's needs. Your body works diligently to filter the things you eat before the nutrients are passed on to your baby. Even food items in your diet that are high in sugar receive effective filtering before they reach your breast milk supply.

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Caloric Levels

No matter how many calories or fat grams a mother takes in while breastfeeding, the levels of fat and calories in her milk remain unaffected. Milk sugar is the main component in breast milk, and all nursing mothers have the same amount of sugar in their milk. Even when a mother has a diet that is high in sugar, her body will filter out the junk and create the same beneficial breast milk that every nursing baby enjoys.

Fat Content

Likewise, all breast milk contains the same amount of fat. Fat content in breast milk is determined more by the time of day than by what foods a breastfeeding mother eats. A nursing mom's diet can affect what kinds of fats are most present in her milk, but eating sugar will not change the amount of fat that her breast milk contains.

Artificial Sweeteners

Most artificial sweeteners are safe for nursing mothers to eat. Babies who do not have allergies or phenylketonuria are not affected by sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose. However, it's a good idea not to overdo it, especially on new and untested artificial sweeteners. Moderate use of these sweeteners is safe for breastfeeding moms and will not affect breastfed babies.

Tooth Decay

It was previously believed that the sugar in breast milk could cause infant tooth decay, but a study by Dr. Norman Tinanoff found that breastfeeding does not cause an unusual number of cavities in children. Breast milk contains protein that protects tooth enamel and has antibacterial properties that help prevent bacteria growth. Tooth decay in young children is best prevented by good oral hygiene habits. The amount of sugar in a breastfeeding mother's diet does not affect the levels of tooth decay that her children will experience.

Energy Levels

While consuming sugar may not have a detrimental effect on a breastfeeding mother's infant, it may negatively affect her own health. Since her body will take the nutrients it needs from her to provide the best milk for her baby, a mother who eats large amounts of sugar may suffer from a loss of energy. Breastfeeding moms need protein-rich foods to fuel their bodies while generating milk for their babies.

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About the Author

Leigh Good has been writing for magazines and newspapers for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in numerous print and online publications. Good has a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Georgia State University.

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