Limit caffeine consumption during pregnancy

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The Food Standards Agency of UK has issued new advice on caffeine consumption during pregnancy. This follows the results of new FSA-funded research carried out by the Universities of Leeds and Leicester.

Pregnant women are advised to limit their daily caffeine intake to 200mg a day – roughly two mugs of coffee a day. This is because too much caffeine might result in a baby having a lower birth weight than it should, which can increase the risk of some health conditions in later life. There is also some evidence which suggests that high levels of caffeine can result in spontaneous miscarriage. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, some soft drinks, and certain medicines.

The Agency had previously recommended a maximum daily intake of 300mg. However, the new research, published by the British Medical Journal today, suggests a limit of 200mg per day will help to reduce this low risk even further.

Professor Janet Cade, from the University of Leeds, said: ‘Everyone wants the best for their baby. Limiting daily caffeine intake is one way which you can ensure your baby has the best start in life.’

Pregnant women who have been following the previous advice, and limiting consumption to below 300mg a day, should not be concerned. Not only is the risk likely to be very low, but the research also showed that the average daily caffeine intake during pregnancy was already below 200mg, so many pregnant women will not be affected by this change in advice. Those currently consuming more than this 200mg a day are advised to simply reduce their caffeine consumption to less than 200mg a day for the remainder of their pregnancy.

Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist at the FSA, said: ‘This new advice doesn’t mean that pregnant women have to cut out caffeine completely, simply that they should be careful and make sure they don’t have too much. We would emphasise that the risks are likely to be very small and believe our new advice, which is based on new research and has been considered by leading independent scientists, is sensible and proportionate.’

These findings and the results of other studies were considered by independent experts of the FSA’s Committee on Toxicity, who advised a change in the FSA’s advice on daily caffeine intake for pregnant women.

Source: Food Standards Agency, UK

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