Caffeine consumption and expectant mothers

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: May 10th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Of all the things a woman must give up during pregnancy, the most difficult for many is caffeine. But moms-to-be craving a morning cup of joe, take heart. A new study published last month in the British Medical Journal showed that women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy don’t have a greater risk of premature births or underweight babies.

The study, conducted by Danish researchers, sought to clarify confusion over caffeine’s effect on fetal development. While some studies have shown that drinking coffee during pregnancy increases the chances of low birth weight and early delivery, others found no link.

The researchers recruited more than twelve-hundred healthy women who drank at least three cups of coffee a day and were less than twenty weeks pregnant. Participants were divided into two groups, one receiving caffeinated coffee and the other receiving decaffeinated coffee.

The researchers found no significant differences between the two groups for length of pregnancy or birth weight. But expectant mothers shouldn’t rush off to Starbucks for a double shot of espresso just yet.

Because the control group also consumed some caffeine… even decaf contains small amounts… the authors acknowledge the study doesn’t show caffeine is harmless, only that cutting back has no obvious positive effect.

Still, the researchers said one or two cups of coffee a day is probably fine for most expectant mothers and their unborn babies.

Questions still brewing? Seek medical advice if you’re pregnant and pondering whether to indulge.