Pregnant women in Britain are currently advised to consume no more than 200mg of caffeine per day, which can be as little as one cup of strong coffee.
But a Norwegian study has recently put the guidelines on caffeine during pregnancy in the spotlight as researchers found that women sticking to these recommendations were up to 18 per cent more likely to have a baby that was small for their age, reports The Telegraph.
One in ten women taking part in the study exceeded the guidelines and this was found to increase the odds of a small baby to between 20 and 60 per cent higher than the group who consumed the least caffeine.
Researchers looked at 60,000 women reporting their dietary habits at 15, 22 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. Caffeine intake was reported from all sources, including tea, chocolate, cocoa, soft drinks and various types of coffee.
“We could not find a threshold for the associate of caffeine consumption and small for gestational age,” the authors of the study said.
“Until there is clarity if there is a causal association between caffeine intake and increased risk for small for gestational age, women might be advised to reduce their caffeine consumption as much as possible during pregnancy.”
Dr Pat O’Brien spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reportedly said the study was “strong” and that the results justified a wider look at the evidence to see whether the current guidelines need to be revised.
“These kinds of studies can never be perfect, but it is a decent study and has a large number of women included so it is valid,” he said. “I would not recommend changing the caffeine guidelines based on one study but we should have another look at the evidence and see where the truth lies.”