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

100mg/day (the equivalent of less than one cup of coffee), the risk estimates of having a lower birth weight baby increased by 20% for intakes of 100-199mg/day, by 50% for those taking between 200-299mg/day, and by 40% for over 300mg/day.

There was no level of caffeine intake at which the increased risk of FGR stopped increasing during pregnancy. Caffeine consumption of more than 100mg/day, the equivalent of one cup of coffee, was associated with a reduction in birth weight of 34-59g in the first, 24-74g in the second, and about 66-89g in the third trimesters. This effect was significant and consistent across all trimesters with consumption of over 200mg/day. The authors also noted that the link between caffeine and FGR was stronger in women who metabolised caffeine more quickly.

The authors explain that, although these reductions in birth weight may seem small given that the average birth weight is over 3kg, a drop of 60-70 g might be important for a baby that was already small and at risk. Pregnant women should make every effort to significantly reduce their caffeine consumption before and during pregnancy, they warn.

In light of this evidence, the UK Government's Food Standards Agency are altering their guidance on the recommended daily limit of caffeine consumption and reducing it from 300mg to 200mg.

These findings will reinforce the concern that caffeine is a potential fetotoxic substance, say Professor Jrn Olsen and Professor Bodil Hammer Bech, in an accompanying editorial. But the advice offered by the authors could unnecessarily frighten women who have consumed some caffeine during pregnancy.

Pregnant women should reduce their intake of caffeine, but must not replace it with unhealthy alternatives such as alcoholic drinks or soft drinks full of sugar, they add.


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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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