LONDON – Pregnant women who consume as little as one cup of coffee a day are at a higher risk of giving birth to underweight babies, Reuters reported Monday.
The new findings were published in the British Medical Journal and represent the latest evidence that the amount of caffeine a person consumes — including that from coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, and some prescription drugs — may directly impact their health and lead to slower fetal growth in pregnant women.
Underweight babies are more likely to develop a host of health conditions as they grow, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems, according to the report.
In January, U.S. researchers found that pregnant women who drank two or more cups of coffee a day nearly double their risk of having a miscarriage compared to those who avoid caffeine completely.
"Caffeine consumption during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of fetal growth restriction and this association continued throughout pregnancy," wrote study leader, Dr. Justin Konje, of the University of Leicester in Britain, in the study.
Konje and his team looked at 2,645 women at an average age of 30, who were between eight and 12 weeks pregnant.
The study showed that women who consumed between 100-199 milligrams of caffeine — about one to two cups of coffee daily — had a 20 percent increased risk of having a baby of low-birth weight compared to women who consumed less than 100 milligrams daily.
That risk increased significantly to 50 percent for women who consumed between 200-299 milligrams each day — the equivalent of about 2-3 cups of coffee — and the impact was equivalent to consuming alcohol during pregnancy, researchers said. Konje said women should reduce caffeine intake as much as possible during pregnancy.