Pregnant women should not drink coffee, study finds

Top view close up of calm young pregnant woman drinking cup of coffee at home. She is sitting on sofa and touching belly with love (Photo: Romper)

Alcohol and smoking aren’t the only things that you need to be giving up if you’re pregnant, turns out you need to stop drinking coffee as well.

Researchers at the Reykjavik University in Iceland found that even low levels of caffeine could increase the risk of miscarriage by up to 36 per cent, stillbirth by up to 19 per cent and low birth weight by up to 51 per cent. Childhood leukemia and obesity were also potential risks.

The research suggested there was no safe level of consumption whether with child or trying to conceive.

Professor Jack James, writing in BMJ’s Evidence-Based Medicine journal said that usually caffeine was rapidly absorbed by the body, with peak concentrations occurring within an hour.

It then takes around five hours for blood levels of caffeine to halve, with the level declining gradually thereafter.

But he said that during pregnancy it took the body far longer to get rid of the substance. By the 38th week of pregnancy, it could take 18 hours for caffeine levels to halve.

Professor James said this meant an unborn baby could be exposed to the drug for several hours – having a profound impact on its developing body such as speeding up the baby’s heart rate and the blood vessels in its brain constricting.

However, experts have called his study alarmist, and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) still advises that women should consume no more than 200mg a day which is roughly two cups of coffee.