Reducing caffeine intake has no effect on birth weight or length of pregnancy

Jan 26, 2007

There is no evidence that moderate levels of caffeine consumption during pregnancy lead to a greater risk of premature births and underweight babies despite warnings from some public health officials, finds a new study on bmj.com today.

Previous research has puzzled public health authorities. While some studies have suggested that a high caffeine intake can lead to lower average birth weights of as much as 100 – 200g and an increased chance of preterm babies, others have found no connection between caffeine and problems with foetal development.

Danish researchers sought to clarify this confusing picture by monitoring the pregnancies of 1,207 healthy women who drank more than three cups of coffee a day – a high caffeine intake - and who were less than twenty weeks pregnant.

This large group was divided randomly into two equal groups who received either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. Each participant was regularly interviewed to monitor their caffeine intake, including contributions from other drinks, such as tea and cola. Information was collected on their length of gestation and baby's weight at the conclusion of their pregnancy.

Importantly, the researchers took a number of precautions to ensure that the study's findings were not corrupted by outside factors. Those taking part were not told what type of coffee they were drinking. During the analysis phase, adjustments were made for other factors, such as age, pre-pregnancy weight and the smoking status of the participants.

The final results showed that there was no real difference in either the length of pregnancy or birth weight between the two groups.

Women drinking caffeinated coffee recorded a mean (average) birth weight of 3539g while those consuming decaffeinated coffee had a mean birth weight of 3519g, a difference of just 20g that was not statistically meaningful.

There were no other important differences between pregnancies in the two groups. In the caffeinated group, 4.2% of infants were born prematurely and 4.5% were small for their gestational age, compared to 5.2% premature births and 4.7% underweight babies in the decaffeinated groups.

The report's authors conclude that decreasing caffeine intake during the later stages of pregnancy has no overall effect on birth weight and length of pregnancy.

Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal

Explore further: Ice bath after exercise? The benefits might be in your head

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cohesin molecule safeguards cell division

11 minutes ago

The cohesin molecule ensures the proper distribution of DNA during cell division. Scientists at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna can now prove the concept of its carabiner-like ...

Erosion may trigger earthquakes

12 minutes ago

Researchers from laboratories at Géosciences Rennes (CNRS/Université de Rennes 1), Géosciences Montpellier (CNRS/Université de Montpellier 2) and Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot), ...

Laser scanning accurately 'weighs' trees

12 minutes ago

A terrestrial laser scanning technique that allows the structure of vegetation to be 3D-mapped to the millimetre is more accurate in determining the biomass of trees and carbon stocks in forests than current ...

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

14 minutes ago

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

17 minutes ago

Astrobiologists have shown that the formation of RNA from prebiotic reactions may not be as problematic as scientists once thought.

Recommended for you

AMA: Hospital staff should consider impact of CMS rule

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Hospital medical staff members need to consider the impact of a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that revised the conditions of participation for hospitals ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.