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A little coffee can be healthy during pregnancy

By Cara Murez

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY 16 Nov. 2021 (HealthDay News) – Many women are afraid to give up coffee during their pregnancy, but new research suggests that consuming a little caffeine while expecting is not necessarily a bad thing.

“While we could not study the relationship of consumption above the recommended limit, we now know that low-to-moderate caffeine is not associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or hypertension for expectant mothers, “says study author Stefanie Hinkle. She is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

For the study, the researchers looked at prospective data from more than 2,500 pregnant participants enrolled in a U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study conducted between 2009 and 2013 at 12 U.S. clinical centers.

The study measured concentrations of caffeine in the participants’ blood plasma when they were 10 and 13 weeks pregnant, as well as asked women to report weekly intake of caffeinated coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks.

The team applied that information to clinical diagnoses of gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia (a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system).

The researchers found that drinking caffeinated beverages at 10 to 13 weeks of gestation was not associated with the risk of gestational diabetes. Not only that, drinking up to 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day – about one 6-ounce cup – was associated with a 47% reduction in diabetes risk during the second trimester.

The researchers found no statistically significant differences between those who drank caffeine during pregnancy or not in terms of blood pressure, preeclampsia or hypertension.

The findings were recently published online in JAMA network open.

Although the findings are consistent with other studies that have found that caffeine is associated with improved energy balance and reduced fat mass, it may also phytochemicals or other ingredients in coffee and tea that affect inflammation and insulin resistance.

Previous studies have shown that caffeine consumption during pregnancy, even in amounts less than the recommended 200 mg per day, is associated with smaller babies, Hinkle said.


“It would not be advisable for women who are non-drinkers to start caffeinated beverages with the goal of lowering the risk of gestational diabetes,” Hinkle said. “But our findings may provide some reassurance to women who are already consuming low to moderate levels of caffeine that such consumption is unlikely to increase their maternal health risks.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine consumption to less than 200 mg per day. The recommendations are based on studies suggesting possible associations with pregnancy loss and fetal growth at higher caffeine consumption levels, the study authors noted in a university news release.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on pregnancy and health.

SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, news release, Nov. 11. 2021

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