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Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy Could Lead to Child's Weight Gain, Claims New Study

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Pregnant women that consume too much caffeine might give their unborn children problems in the future, a new study says. One of the foreseen problems is weight gain.

The New Study

On Monday, April 23, BMJ Open released a study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The institute followed a group of pregnant women and their families through the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. The research team recruited 50,943 mothers to participate in this study that went on from 2002 to 2008. As a part of its research, the team checked the women's caffeine intake only during the 22nd week of their pregnancy.

To determine how much caffeine the women consumed, the research team asked them to create a dietary journal. The most food that was consumed by the study's participants were desserts that contained cocoa, energy drinks, coffee drinks, and tea.

Once the material was received from the mothers, the team created four categories of caffeine intake: low (less than 50 milligrams a day), average (50 to 199 mg/day), high (200-299 mg/day), or very high (300 or more mg/day). 

Post-Pregnancy Findings

Following the women giving birth, the team asked them to bring their children for follow-up appointments. The follow-up visits happened at 11 different times in every child's life, starting from when the child was 6 months old until 8 years old. During those visits, the research team would measure the child's weight, height, and body length. 

The team found that the children of the women who consumed a very high level of caffeine faced a 66 percent heightened risk for "excess growth," or being overweight for their age group. As for women who consumed the average or high levels of caffeine, they had a respective 10 percent and 30 percent of having children dealing with "excess growth" during their infant years. The study also found that if the child was exposed to average, high, and very high levels of caffeine in utero, they were at higher risk of being overweight in between the ages of 3 and 5.

"Our findings show that high maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy was related to excess growth from infancy and with obesity later in childhood.  The results support the current recommendations to limit caffeine intake during pregnancy to less than 200 mg of caffeine per day, which is approximately 2-3 cups of coffee ... (but) we also found associations with caffeine intake below 200 mg," said Eleni Papadopoulou, one of the primary authors of this study, to CNN.

Other Pregnancy Stories

In addition to the release of the BMJ Open study, there have been other findings regarding pregnancy that made the news. The Lancet revealed that poor health among both men and women could significantly affect the health of their unborn child. In addition to smoking and drinking, The Lancet discovered that obesity could have long-term effects on the child's health. Obesity can lead to complications such as heart attack, stroke, and even diabetes.

The American Economic Review released a paper regarding how women that experience grief during their pregnancy might increase the odds of their child developing mental health problems when they become adults. The paper's authors stated that the grieving process might lead to ADHD, anxiety, and depression.

Meanwhile, a Florida woman that had terrible food poisoning on April 1 turned out that she was 37 weeks pregnant. Crystal Gail Amerson stated that she was completely caught off guard with her pregnancy as she did not experience any pregnancy symptoms. Amerson was rushed to the hospital and gave birth to a baby boy.

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