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Consuming small amounts of caffeine when pregnant may affect the growth of an unborn child
Date:11/3/2008

Consuming caffeine at any time during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of fetal growth restriction (low birth weight), according to research published on bmj.com today.

Although some previous studies have also shown this, this BMJ study additionally shows that any amount and type of caffeine intakefrom tea, cola, chocolate, cocoa, and some prescription drugs, as well as coffeeis linked with relatively slower fetal growth.

Dr Justin Konje and colleagues from the University of Leicester as well as collaborators from the University of Leeds, examined the association of maternal caffeine intake and individual caffeine metabolism on birth weight.

From two large teaching hospitals in the UK between September 2003 and June 2006 the authors recruited 2645 low risk pregnant women of average age 30, who were between 8-12 weeks pregnant. They used a caffeine assessment tool (CAT) to record caffeine intake from all possible dietary sources in the four weeks before and throughout pregnancy, and also used a saliva sample test to calculate individual caffeine metabolism.

The researchers report that the average caffeine intake during pregnancy was 159mg/day, much lower than the limit of 300mg/day recommended by the UK government's Food Standards Agency. Interestingly, 62% of the caffeine use reported came from tea. Other sources were coffee (14%), cola (12%), chocolate (8%), and soft drinks (2%).

Most of the babies were born at full term, with an average birth weight of 3450g (which is around the UK average), while 4% were born prematurely, 0.3% were stillborn, and 0.7% were miscarried late. Overall, the results confirmed that these were low risk pregnancies. However, the authors found a 'dose-response relationship', showing that increasing caffeine intake was associated with increasing risk of fetal growth restriction (FGR).

Compared to pregnant women consuming less than
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Contact: Rachael Davies
rdavies@bma.org.uk
44-020-738-36529
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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