Caffeine Limits for Pregnant Women Need 'Radical Revision'

Health authorities disagree; 200mg daily limit remains
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2020 9:35 AM CDT
Caffeine Limits for Pregnant Women Need 'Radical Revision'
The official recommendation of 200mg of caffeine per day for pregnant women still stands.   (Getty Images/Dejan_Dundjerski)

Pregnant women who've limited their caffeine consumption to one or two cups of coffee per day, in accordance with official US guidance, aren't going far enough, according to a new peer-reviewed study that finds there's no safe level of caffeine for moms-to-be. Researchers say health recommendations in the US, UK, and Europe—advising 200mg of caffeine per day for pregnant women—need "radical revision" as they are "not consistent with the level of threat," per the Guardian. Researchers analyzed 48 observational studies and meta-analyses on maternal caffeine consumption published in the last 20 years, finding "persuasive confirmation of increased risk" for miscarriage, stillbirth, a baby that is low in birth weight or small for the gestational age, childhood obesity, and childhood acute leukemia, per the BBC and Guardian.

Lead author Jack James of Reykjavik University says eight out of every nine studies on caffeine and miscarriage showed "significant associations," while four out of five studies on stillbirth showed an increased risk linked to caffeine. "The cumulative scientific evidence supports pregnant women and women contemplating pregnancy being advised to avoid caffeine, reads the study published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. But some say the study is alarmist, based in part on self-reported intakes, may not account for risk factors such as smoking, and doesn't conclusively show that low doses of caffeine are harmful, per the BBC. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the UK's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists say there's no need to adjust the 200mg daily recommendation at this time, per CNN. (More caffeine stories.)

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