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Some
reports claimed that aspartame is associated with health problems from normal
problems to serious diseases. The normal problems can be digestive symptoms,
dizziness, headache and changes in mood. The severe disease are diabetes,
Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, lupus, birth defects, Gulf War syndrome,
attention deficit disorders, multiple sclerosis and seizures. However, recent
studies can not prove the side effect or toxicity of this sweetener when
applied to food.

Despite
this synthetic sweetener has no consistent proof of side effects, aspartame is
still dangerous to people who suffer phenylketonuria (PKU) disease.
Phenylketonuria is a uncommon genetic disorder in which the body can not hydrolyze
and absorb phenylalanine which is an common amino acid existed in several
foods. Phenylalanine molecules will accumulate in the blood which leads to interfere
other necessary substances (like amino acids) from reaching the brain. If the
daily intake of  phenylalanine is not carefully
regulated, children with PKU will grow with abnormal brain development.

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A
routine blood test is used to determine people have PKU or not when shortly
after birth. If the results show the positive with PKU, they need to eat a low-phenylalanine
meal for whole life. It is important for children to identify this diseases and
follow the diet because their brains are easily damaged and still developing.
Because PKU can affect the development of the fetus, this test is also
important in pregnant women.

Because
aspartame formula contains phenylalanine, it is necessary for people with PKU
to avoid consuming aspartame in their meal. Aspartame is a methyl ester of the
dipeptide of the natural amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine. Under
acidic conditions in stomach, aspartame may generate free amino acids by
hydrolysis. Therefore, any products, which contain this artificial sweetener in
recipe, must be labeled like “Phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine”.

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