Apparently pregnant women can have their cup of coffee and drink it too. According to a group of Swedish researchers, consuming moderate amounts of caffeine while pregnant does not appear to have any effect on either the birth weight of the baby or the length of the pregnancy. These findings do not support an association between moderate caffeine consumption and reduced birth weight, gestational age or fetal growth. Almost 900 women were interviewed during the first trimester and then again during the third trimester. At both interviews, they were asked to report their caffeine intake just before and during pregnancy. The consumption of coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks and any caffeine-containing medications were all recorded. After reviewing birth weights of the newborns and the number of weeks they were carried before delivery, the researchers determined that exposure to caffeine had no effect on either outcome. Several other factors appeared to have some impact on fetal growth, including having previously had a low birth weight child, experiencing nausea and fatigue throughout a pregnancy, and the number of hours the mother logged at work each week. Despite the lack of risk posed by caffeine found in this study, pregnant women need to take other considerations into account when deciding when to consume coffee, tea or chocolate. Previous research has established a connection between consuming caffeine in the first few months of pregnancy and an increased risk of miscarriage. Such an association has recently been a topic of debate, with some researchers countering that there is no hard evidence that caffeine plays any significant role in inducing spontaneous abortions. These studies imply that caffeine intake should be avoided in early pregnancy--while later during pregnancy moderate caffeine ingestion should not increase the risk of an unsuccessful pregnancy outcome.
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