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Health & Pregnancy

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Some Coffee OK Late in Pregnancy

Caffeine and Pregnancy May Mix -- Danish Study Shows No Impact on Preterm Delivery, Birth Weight

Caffeine vs. Decaf

The average birth weight of babies born to the women in the lower caffeine group was 7.75 pounds, compared to 7.8 pounds for babies born to women who consumed more caffeine.

In the caffeinated group, 4.2% of infants were born prematurely and 4.5% were small for their gestational age, vs. a premature and underweight birth rate of 5.2% and 4.7%, respectively, in the decaffeinated group.

None of those differences reached statistical significance, meaning the differences could have been due to chance.

The Danish group's findings appear in the Jan. 26 issue of BMJ Online.

Miscarriage Concerns

While the researchers found no evidence that caffeine influences outcomes late in pregnancy, concerns about its impact early in pregnancy and even before conception remain.

Drinking five or more cups of coffee a day was found to double a pregnant woman’s risk of having a miscarriage in a Swedish study reported in 2000. There have also been suggestions that caffeine can lower fertility.

The March of Dimes, a group that works to prevent birth defects, recommends that pregnant women drink no more than two 8-ounce cups of coffee a day, and that they watch their intake of caffeinated tea, colas, and chocolate.

March of Dimes Deputy Medical Director Diane Ashton, MD, MPH, says pregnant women should limit their caffeine consumption as much as possible.

“If you can avoid caffeine altogether, that is probably ideal,” she tells WebMD.

“One or two cups of coffee a day probably won’t pose a problem for most women," Ashton says. "But a woman who has had recurrent pregnancy losses or who is having problems becoming pregnant might want to consider a caffeine-free diet.”

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