Are Doctors Recommending Pregnant Women Drink Dangerous Chemicals?

In the latest post from Vani Hari, “The Food Babe,” she claims that the glucose solution given to pregnant women to test for gestational diabetes has all sorts of “dangerous ingredients” like brominated vegetable oil (which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says: “BVO is considered safe by FDA for use as a flavoring adjuvant in fruit-flavored beverages based on several long-term animal studies) and “hazardous artificial colors and preservatives,” including dreaded GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Setting aside the ridiculousness of avoiding a glucose test because of GMOs (which as we’ve discussed, have not been shown to have any negative health effects) or some artificial flavorings, the Food Babe is needlessly scaring pregnant women away from a standard test for a pretty scary ailment.

Gestational diabetes carries the risk of many complications, including:

  • High blood pressure and preeclampsia;
  • Future diabetes for both mother and baby;
  • Preterm delivery and respiratory distress syndrome;
  • Low blood sugar in infants; and
  • High birth weight.

While gestational diabetes is very serious—and occurs in approximately 4 percent of pregnancies, making screening necessary—there is no evidence that any pregnant women have suffered harm from drinking the glucola solution during a gestational diabetes test.

The test certainly isn’t fun. And the Food Babe is right: researchers are looking into alternatives to glucola like jellybeans and even Twizzlers and Jolly Ranchers. But the Food Babe takes her stance a step further and recommends: “An even better option that you can discuss with your doctor would be to avoid the test altogether and monitor your blood sugar with a glucometer throughout your pregnancy,” linking to three “wellness” blogs as sound medical advice.

The Food Babe isn’t a doctor, as she points out at the very end of the post “I am not a doctor (take my advice at your own risk).” Before pregnant women get worked up about a standard test, they should take the time to discuss all their options with their obstetrician, not their favorite food blogger.