Should Pregnant Women Drink Coffee?

Should pregnant women drink coffee? Children exposed in utero to caffeine have a lower birth weight, according to a Swedish study published in the journal BMC Medicine. Several studies have already been carried out on the possible impact of caffeine on the future baby, without reaching a consensus.

A major pitfall of this kind of work is the fact that coffee consumption is more frequent among smokers; but tobacco is itself linked to an increased risk of prematurity and low birth weight, which contribute to subsequent health problems.

A risk of low birth weight?

Verena Sengpiel from the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg and her colleagues managed to lift this methodological obstacle, thanks to the size of their study (nearly 60,000 women), which enabled them to separate the consumption of coffee from that of cigarettes.

Apart from this, the researchers show that caffeine carries a risk of low birth weight. By leaving aside the smokers, any daily increase of 100 milligrams of caffeine – the equivalent of about two cups of filter coffee or an espresso – reduces the weight of the newborn from 12 to 18 grams.

coffee pregnant woman

Although modest, this deviation from the norm is observed throughout pregnancy: pregnant women exceeding the recommendations (more than 200 mg of caffeine per day) are up to 62% more likely to carry a small child.

By Pavel Bolero