Should pregnant women give up coffee?

Caffeine can cause babies to be born with low birth weights

Pregnant women should consider giving up coffee, as even low levels of caffeine can cause babies to be born with low birth weights, according to leading Scandinavian scientists.

The study, led by scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, looked at 60,000 women and found babies born to mothers who drank even a single cup a day were born lighter than expected.

Coffee was the source of most caffeine consumed by the women.

The report suggests that drinking 200-300mg of caffeine per day raised the risk of a baby being born ‘small for gestational age’ by between 27 and 62 per cent.

According to the study, published in journal BMC Medicine, a child expected to be born with the average birthweight of 3.6kg lost 21-28g for every 100mg of caffeine the mother consumed each day.

Currently the British Food Standards Agency in Britain advises pregnant women to limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day.

However, expert Verena Sengpiel who worked on the study, said those limits may not be low enough.

She said: ‘We don’t find any threshold limit. From the first milligram of caffeine there’s an increased rate of babies being born small for gestational age.

‘If women want to be cautious and don’t have any problems with giving up caffeine, they should try to quit. Otherwise, stick to the guidelines and limit your intake to less than 200mg of caffeine a day.’

Babies who are born smaller than expected are more prone to various medical problems, such as issues with regulating blood glucose levels and slower development.

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