Women who drink just two cups of coffee a day while pregnant risk their children being overweight, revealed study published in the BMJ Open Journal.
It has not been clearly shown if caffeine is the direct cause of the overweight, but the relationship, alone, has caused researchers to encourage increased caution. "There may be good cause to increase the restriction of the recommended maximum of three cups of coffee per day. Caffeine is not a medicine that needs to be consumed," says Verena Sengpiel, Associate Professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden, and specialist physician at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, studied information on 50 943 pregnant women, in one of the world's largest health surveys of pregnant women, the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa).
The results show that children born to mothers who consumed caffeine during pregnancy are at greater risk of being overweight at preschool and school ages. Children were followed until eight years of age. Being overweight in childhood has previously been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes later in life. For example, at age five, the share of children who were overweight or obese was five percent greater in the group whose mothers had the highest caffeine consumption in the study, compared to those whose mothers had the lowest caffeine consumption. The association between caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of excess growth and overweight or obesity in children could also be seen in women who had followed the recommended amount for pregnant women. According to the National Food Agency, Sweden, pregnant women should not consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is equivalent to three cups of coffee (1.5 dl each) or six mugs of black tea (2 dl each).
"Even if more studies are needed before we can say what this finding really means, caffeine is a substance that you can choose to reduce consumption of or completely refrain from during pregnancy," notes Verena Sengpiel.