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New Study Looks at the Effects of Coffee on Pregnant Women


LucFiled under: Health by Luc

Although many of us enjoy drinking a cup of coffee as a pick me up in the morning or even as a mid-day treat, a new British study has found that pregnant women may want to cut back on the amount of coffee they consume during their pregnancy.  Although this may be tough for some women who count on that daily shot of caffeine, the results of the study indicate that it may be worthwhile for pregnant women to make some changes in their coffee consumption until after the baby is born.  In fact, the research is so convincing that the British government has decided to lower their daily recommended caffeine limit from 300 mg to 200 mg.

The Participants

In order to test the effects of caffeine consumption on pregnant women and their babies, researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of Leeds studied 2,645 pregnant women.  All of these women were experiencing low-risk pregnancies and were an average age of 30 years old. 

The average caffeine intake of the women participating in the study was a mere 159 mg per day, which is significantly less than what the British government was already recommending as the daily limit.  While tea was the main source of the caffeine the women consumed, the second largest contributor to their caffeine intake was coffee.  Cola came in third place, followed by chocolate and then by other soft drinks.

The Results

When the women involved in the study gave birth, the researches found that most gave birth to full term babies of average weight.  4% of the babies, however, were born prematurely, while 0.3% were stillborn and 0.7% were miscarried late in the pregnancy. 

The researchers involved in the study were able to determine that those who consumed higher amounts of caffeine were more likely to have babies of low birth weight.  In fact, when compared to women who consumed less than 100 mg of caffeine per day – which is less than the amount of caffeine in the typical cup of coffee – women consuming 100-199 mg per day were 20 percent more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies.  The study also found that those who consumed 200-299 mg per day were 50% more likely to give birth to a low birth weight baby.

Unfortunately, the researchers found these results to be consistent across all trimesters for those women who consumed more than 200 mg of caffeine per day.  In addition, those women who metabolized caffeine more quickly were also more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies.

The Advice

Despite the results of this study, experts conflict when it comes to what they recommend to pregnant women.  For the most part, however, most experts agree that caffeine consumption should be limited during pregnancy.  At the same time, it is important to replace your coffee with healthy alternatives rather than drinking caffeine-free soft drinks that are filled with sugar or that lack nutrition.  When it comes down to it, you should discuss your eating and drinking habits with your doctor in order to make certain you are following the best plan possible.


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