There seems to be strong evidence to support the claim that sodium benzoate (E211) causes hyperactivity in young children, e.g. Bateman et al. (2004) and McCann et al. (2007). This leads me to consider whether or not E211 is harmful during pregnancy.
A study by Mowafy et al. (2001) found a slight decrease in survival rates for pups of pregnant rats given sodium benzoate; they also found a more significant drop in mean weight of their pups.
Question: Could the consumption of sodium benzoate by the mother be harmful during human pregnancy? How would this be the case?
- Bateman, B., Warner, J.O., Hutchinson, E., Dean, T., Rowlandson, P., Gant, C., Grundy, J., Fitzgerald, C. & Stevenson, J. (2004) The effects of a double blind, placebo controlled, artificial food colourings and benzoate preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population sample of preschool children. Archives of Disease in Childhood. [Online] 89 (6), 506 –511.
- McCann, D., Barrett, A., Cooper, A., Crumpler, D., Dalen, L., Grimshaw, K., Kitchin, E., Lok, K., Porteous, L., Prince, E., Sonuga-Barke, E., Warner, J.O. & Stevenson, J. (2007) Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet. [Online] 370 (9598), 1560–1567.
- Mowafy, A.R., Darwish, A.M., El-Kholy, S.A. & Abdel-Mohsen, S.H. (2001) Effect of food preservatives on mother rats and survival of their offspring. The Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association. 76 (3-4), 281–295.