For pregnant women, Swedish researchers say drinking just two cups of coffee a day is enough to increase the risk of a low birth weight infant. The results come from a large study involving 59,000 women.
"The correlation between intake of caffeine and fetal growth was established even among women who followed the official recommendation that they limit caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams a day [two cups of coffee]," said researcher Verena Sengpiel.
The medical term used in this context 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 group of women. 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 fetal growth.
The research team is hoping to conduct more in-depth studies about the cause-effect relationship between caffeine use and SGA, as well as any correlation between SGA and neonatal morbidity and death.
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Source: University of Gothenburg