NEW YORK - PREGNANT women who drink six cups of coffee every day may have smaller babies than women who consume less caffeine, according to a Dutch study.
Researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam followed more than 7,300 Dutch women from early pregnancy onward of whom between 2 and 3 per cent said they consumed the caffeine equivalent of six cups of coffee per day during any trimester.
On average, their babies' length at birth was slightly shorter than that of newborns whose mothers had consumed less caffeine during pregnancy. 'Caffeine intake seems to affect length growth of the fetus from the first trimester onwards,' researcher Rachel Bakker told Reuters Health.
Heavy caffeine consumers also had an increased risk of having a baby who was small for gestational age - smaller than the norm for the baby's sx and the week of pregnancy during which he or she was born.
That finding, however, was based on a small number of babies, and the significance is uncertain. Of 104 infants born to women with the highest caffeine intakes, seven were small for gestational age.
The findings, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, add to the conflicting body of research into whether caffeine during pregnancy affects fetal growth. Some studies, for instance, have linked regular caffeine consumption during pregnancy - even a relatively modest one or two cups of coffee a day - to an increased risk of low birth weight. But other studies have found no such effects. -- REUTERS