Mums-to-be who drink 6 or more cups of coffee a day have been found to have smaller babies than those with moderate caffeine intake in a Dutch survey of 7,300 pregnancies.
NHS guidelines currently recommend pregnant women consume a maximum of 200mg of caffeine a day. This is about 2 cups of instant coffee or 5 cans of cola. Guidelines reduced the amount last year as there have been fears that excessive caffeine can lead to miscarriage and developmental problems.
This study suggests that caffeine can also have an effect on the rate of growth of babies in the womb. The study used ultrasound to measure babies throughout the pregnancy and found that for all three trimesters babies born to mums with high caffeine consumption were smaller in length and weighed less.
However only 7% of the 104 babies born to big coffee drinkers were actually considered medically small for their age. The other babies were just generally smaller than those born to mums who drank less than 3 cups of coffee.
“We only studied the effect of caffeine on foetal growth,” said Dr Rachel Bakker, author of the study. “Caffeine intake seems to affect length growth of the foetus from the first trimester onwards. Further studies on possible other effects of maternal caffeine intake are therefore needed.”
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