Study Links Caffeine Consumption to Low Birth Weight Babies

Caffeine negatively impacts on the child's ability to grow while in the womb

  Caffeine consumption ups a woman's chances of having a low birth weight baby
A study published in the scientific journal BMC Medicine says that caffeine consumption can be held accountable for the fact that some babies have a relatively low weight when born.

A study published in the scientific journal BMC Medicine says that caffeine consumption can be held accountable for the fact that some babies have a relatively low weight when born.

More precisely, it looks like women who tend to either drink a tad too much coffee, or eat too many caffeine-based foods while pregnant are more prone to having children whose birth weight is below average.

This particular research into how caffeine impacts on a child's ability to develop and grow while still in the womb was carried out by a team of specialists working with the Norwegian Institute for Public Health.

According to EurekAlert!, these scientists have analyzed a total of ten years' worth of data concerning birth records, and have discovered that the caffeine found in coffee, various types of tea, fizzy drinks, cakes, deserts and chocolate toys with the birth weight of babies.

Despite the fact that coffee drinking and smoking are two habits that usually go hand in hand, it seems that caffeine alone is likely to affect prenatal care.

Dr. Verena Sengpiel, one of the researchers who looked into this issue, made a case of how, “Caffeine consumption is strongly correlated with smoking which is known to increase the risk for both preterm delivery and the baby being small for gestational age at birth (SGA).”

However, “In this study we found no association between either total caffeine or coffee caffeine and preterm delivery but we did find an association between caffeine and SGA. This association remained even when we looked only at non-smoking mothers which implies that the caffeine itself is also having an effect on birth weight.”

These specialists explain that, much like all other nutrients and oxygen, caffeine can pass through the placental barrier.

Seeing how the embryo lacks the enzymes needed in order to properly deal with this chemical compound, it need not come as a surprise that its growth is ultimately impaired.

Because of this, the researchers recommend that mothers-to-be settle for ingesting no more than 300mg of caffeine per day.

Furthermore, they should pay attention to the caffeine content of not just coffee, but also of other drinks and snacks.

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By    19 Feb 2013, 21:21 GMT