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Should Woman Quit Caffeine While Pregnant?

Studies report babies born smaller than expected, due to a potential link to caffeine consumption
Nov. 5, 2008
Women who plan to become pregnant should quit caffeine completely - or at least "markedly reduce" caffeine consumption - when pregnant, British researchers report.

The debate springs from a new study of 2,600 women who gave birth at two British hospitals between 2003 and 2006.

Every trimester while pregnant, the women reported their consumption of caffeinated products including tea, coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks, and chocolate. And in their first trimester, they recalled their consumption of those items in the month before conception.

The researchers focused on fetal growth restriction -- babies born smaller than expected for their gestational age -- and a potential link to caffeine consumption.

Caffeine During Pregnancy

Relatively few women in the study -- 13% -- had a baby with fetal growth restriction. Greater caffeine consumption was linked to greater odds of having a baby with fetal growth restriction.

For instance, compared to women who got less than 100 milligrams per day of caffeine, the odds of having a baby with fetal growth restriction were:
 20% higher for women who got 100-199 milligrams per day of caffeine
 50% higher for women who got 200- or more milligrams per day of caffeine

For comparison, a standard 8-ounce cup of drip coffee has 85 milligrams of caffeine.

The researchers -- who included Justin Konje, MD, calculated those estimates after considering the women's alcohol and tobacco use.

The findings don't prove that caffeine was to blame for fetal growth restriction. But Konje and colleagues point out that caffeine can cross the placenta, passing from mother to fetus.

The issue might not be caffeine itself, but one of the compounds that caffeine breaks down into, Konje's team speculates.

Caffeine During Pregnancy: Second Opinion

Not all studies on the topic have tied caffeine consumption to increased risk of fetal growth restriction, so an editorial published with the study stops short of telling pregnant women to quit caffeine.

"We think that this advice is not justified by the current body of evidence, and that such advice may unnecessarily frighten women who have consumed caffeine while pregnant," write the editorialists, who included Professor Jorn Olsen, MD, PhD.

But Olsen's team isn't dismissing the potential risk.

"We ... think that pregnant women should be advised to reduce their intake of caffeine products during pregnancy," as long as they don't replace those products with alcoholic beverages or sugary soft drinks, Olsen and colleagues write.
Souce: By Miranda Hitti, WebMD Health News, Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD, Konje, J. and colleagues for the CARE, Study Group, BMJ Online, Nov. 3, 2008. Olsen, J. BMJ Online, Nov. 3, 2008. WebMD Weight Loss Clinic -- Expert Column: "The Buzz on Coffee."
Dr. Iverson's Comment
My teachers once taught me that coffee is like medicine, and it should not be taken every day. True enough, coffee is an herbal medicine and can be a potent medication to cause blood vessel and bronchial dilation (as needed in asthma).
Coffees, both regular and decaf, have more chemical byproducts in them than just caffeine. Researchers are finding that it may be these methyl xanthine chemicals that are responsible for the deleterious effects. 
Caffeine is a stimulant to the nervous system and has a similar stimulating effect as would nicotine or the more serious amphetamine or speed (notice they are all chemicals that end in “–ine”).   Because of this similarity in chemistry, we would also expect to see similar effects on fetuses that we see with these other stimulants.
Our best fluid source is bar none… H20!!! Enjoy!
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