Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy May Be Associated With Risk of Smaller Babies
Caffeine is a commonly consumed stimulant. It is best associated with coffee but can also be found in soft drinks, teas, chocolates, and some over-the-counter medications. While the mother’s system may have adjusted to the effects, a developing baby’s system may be more vulnerable to caffeine. Previous studies have arrived at inconclusive results, but some have hinted that caffeine intake may be associated with increased risk of
Researchers in the United Kingdom (UK) wanted to review the risk of decreased baby growth from maternal caffeine consumption. They particularly noted when a baby’s growth was below what was expected for each stage of pregnancy. The study, published in the British Medical Journal , found that caffeine consumption may increase the risk of having a small baby.
About the Study
After accounting for other toxins like alcohol and smoking, caffeine consumption throughout pregnancy was associated with higher risk of impaired growth. Compared to babies born to mothers who had less than 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine daily (about an 8oz cup of coffee), babies born to mothers who consumed more than 100 mg of caffeine daily were:
- 20g-70g (0.04 lbs-0.15 lbs) smaller in 1st trimester
- 24g-74g (0.05 lbs-0.16 lbs) smaller in 2nd trimester
- 66g-89g (0.14 lbs-0.19 lbs) smaller in 3rd trimester
The effects were consistent through all of the pregnancy trimesters. On average the small babies were about 60g-70g (0.13 lbs-0.15 lbs) behind their counterparts. Researchers also believe that the rate at which the mother metabolized the caffeine could play a role in the effect on the baby.
How Does This Affect You?
A cohort study has some limitations. It is an
Although some studies have conflicting results of caffeine’s true effect, all agree caffeine is not a necessary nutrient. It is best to
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
National Women’s Health Resource Center
CARE study group. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and risk of fetal growth restriction: a large prospective observational study. BMJ . 2008;337:a2332.
Last reviewed December 2008 by
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