Expecting a baby? Here’s why you may want to avoid drinking coffee while pregnant

It’s obvious that an expectant mom needs to change her lifestyle and diet to ensure that the baby inside her is growing well. So, can you drink coffee while pregnant? We’re afraid, you might have to give up your favourite cuppa for a while, at least if you’re expecting. According to a new study, drinking just one or two cups of coffee everyday during pregnancy can increase the risk of your child growing up to be overweight or obese.

The study, published in the BMJ Open journal, however, does not clearly show if caffeine is the direct cause of the excess weight. But the association, alone, has caused researchers to encourage increased caution when consuming caffeine during pregnancy. The study, which involved analysing information on 50 943 pregnant women, was carried out by researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

“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,” said Verena Sengpiel, associate professor at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden Researchers.

The results from the study, which tracked the weight of children up to the age of eight, showed that kids born to mothers who consumed caffeine during pregnancy are at greater risk of being overweight at pre-school and school ages. Various studies have linked being overweight in childhood to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes later in life.

The researchers found that 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, compared to those whose mothers had the lowest caffeine consumption.

Sweden’s National Food Agency suggested that pregnant women should not consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is equivalent to three cups of coffee or six mugs of black tea.

The results of the current study are supported by at least two other studies, however, these included significantly fewer subjects and fewer sources of caffeine.

“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,” said Sengpiel.

Meanwhile, studies have also found a link between high levels of caffeine consumption and delayed pregnancy. Caffeine – a central nervous system stimulant – is not only found in coffee but also in tea, soda. It is also found in even some over-the-counter medications that relieve headaches. So, if you’re pregnant, you may want to avoid or pay more attention to the amount of caffeine you take daily.

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