Researchers examine caffeine and infant health

May 24, 2006 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Researchers examine caffeine and infant health
A study is currently underway at the University of Leeds in the UK trying to narrow in on an exact measure for harmful caffeine intake during pregnancy based on an expectant mother�s metabolism for caffeine.

The role of caffeine in the health of premature and low birth weight babies is under investigation with two studies, one examining the impact of mothers� intake during pregnancy and the other adding to existing evidence that caffeine can improve the symptoms of apnea in premature infants.

The study currently underway in the UK is examining the suggestion that too much caffeine during pregnancy � over five cups of ordinary strength coffee a day � could increase the risk of having a low birth-weight baby. Researchers hope to clarify the effects of caffeine and be able to make solid recommendations to pregnant women regarding a safe level of caffeine during pregnancy.

However, recent study findings from researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton published in The New England Journal of Medicine saw that intravenous caffeine reduced the rate of bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease of babies, by 37 percent in a group of infants with very low birth weight.

Researchers observed the condition of over 2000 very low birth weight infants randomly given intravenous infusions of caffeine or a placebo for their first 10 days of life until their breathing conditions improved. They found that the caffeine reduced the rate of the lung disease.

Further research is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.

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