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Drinking coffee during pregnancy can affect foetal growth

Moms-to-be please note! Drinking justtwo cups of coffee a day can increase your risk of having babies with lower birth weight, a new study has warned.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 12, 2013 19:49 IST
PTI

Moms-to-be please note! Drinking justtwo cups of coffee a day can increase your risk of having babies with lower birth weight, a new study has warned.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have conducted a study on 59,000 women in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Expectant mothers who consume caffeine, usually by drinking coffee, are more likely to have babies with lower birth weight than anticipated, given their gestational age, the study found.

"The correlation between intake of caffeine and foetal growth was established even among women who followed the official recommendation that they limit caffeine consumption to 200 milligrammes a day (two cups of coffee)," researcher Verena Sengpiel said.

The medical term used in this connection is small for gestational age (SGA), which is associated with an elevated risk of morbidity and death.

The new results are consistent with previous international studies but are based on a considerably larger cohort.

The participants were healthy and had uncomplicated pregnancies until delivery, while the results were adjusted for age, smoking, body mass index, nicotine consumption, alcohol use and other variables that affect foetal growth.

"We need to stress that our study did not examine whether caffeine is the specific mechanism substance responsible for the foetus being at greater risk of low birth weight," Sengpiel said in a statement.

"Nor did we look at whether these babies actually had special health problems during the neonatal period. Additional research is needed before we can say for sure what our finding actually means for pregnant women and their babies," Sengpiel said.

The other purpose of the study was to determine whether women who consumed caffeine during pregnancy were more likely to give birth prematurely. Such a correlation could not be established.

The study is published in journal BMC Medicine.

First Published: Mar 12, 2013 19:47 IST