The coffee debate is heating back up in the pregnancy community. According to a new Norwegian study, women who consume the recommended amount of caffeine per day (200 mg) via coffee are more likely to give birth to infants that are small for gestational age (SGA). The study included more than 59,000 women and accounted for other risk factors like smoking, alcohol consumption and BMI.
Researchers evaluated infant weights after risk factors for SGA births were taken into consideration. Caffeine or coffee intake was self-reported. All pregnancies included in the study were uneventful and infants were expected to be of normal weight at birth. In patients who consumed two cups of coffee per day, equivalent to about 200 mg of caffeine, the number of SGA infants was higher. Current recommendations for caffeine intake are set at no more than 200 mg per day while pregnant.
Study authors claim the results of this review are concurrent with international reviews of a smaller scale, but the study results are limited. Researchers did not specifically target caffeine, so there is no clear indication if caffeine is at fault for reduced fetal weight or some other contributing factor not revealed during the study. Neonatal health problems were not considered during the study. Health problems could have contributed to prevalence of SGA births.
The aim of the study was to determine if caffeine intake could be responsible for premature birth. Researchers were unable to determine a connection between caffeine intake and timing of birth. Additional research may be completed by the team in the future to focus on the effects of caffeine intake on birth weight, infant morbidity and infant death.
Source: University of Gothenburg, March 11, 2013. Coffee and Tea during Pregnancy Affect Fetal Growth.