Caffeine consumption during pregnancy - heavy consumption may lower birth weight - Tips from Other J

Date: Sept, 1991

Several studies have suggested that heavy caffeine consumption during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of low birth weight and intrauterine growth retardation. To further assess this relationship, Fenster and colleagues retrospectively evaluated caffeine consumption during the first trimester in 1,230 women with singleton live births.

Low birth weight was defined as birth weight less than 2,500 g (5lb, 8 oz).

Intrauterine growth retardation was defined as weight below the 10th percentile of the mean weight at each gestational week (using standards set for the state of California). Total daily caffeine intake from coffee, tea and soda was determined by patient recall. Caffeine content was estimated as 107 mg per cup of coffee, 34 mg per cup of tea and 47 mg per can of soda. Caffeine consumption was categorized into four groups: no caffeine, light caffeine use (1 to 150 mg per day), moderate caffeine use (151 to 300 mg per day) and heavy caffeine use (more than 300 mg per day).

The mean birth weight of infants born to women who consumed no caffeine was 3,327 g (7lb, 5 oz), compared with 3,170 g (7lb) for infants born to women who drank more than 300 mg of caffeine per day. Women reporting heavy caffeine consumption were three times more likely to have infants with intrauterine growth retardation and twice as likely to deliver low-birth-weight infants. Women in this group who reduced their caffeine intake within six weeks of their last menstrual period had a lower risk of delivering infants with intrauterine growth retardation or low birth weight, compared with women who did not reduce their caffeine use. Preterm delivery (gestational age of less than 37 weeks) was not found to be related to caffeine consumption.

The study findings show that heavy caffeine consumption during the first trimester of pregnancy has a modest effect on lowering infant birth weight and fetal growth rates. The authors suggest that clinicians counsel women early in pregnancy about reducing daily caffeine intake to less than 300 mg, or about three cups of coffee, per day. (American Journal of Public Health, April 1991, vol. 81, p. 458.)

COPYRIGHT 1991 American Academy of Family PhysiciansCOPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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