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Caffeine Linked to Low Birth Weight

Caffeine Linked to Low Birth Weight

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A new study shows that too much caffeine during pregnancy can be dangerous

Another day, another study on the effects of caffeine — and this one should make expectant mothers sit up and listen. A new study links caffeine consumption during pregnancy to babies with decreased birth weight.

While the study, published in the journal BMC Medicine in the U.K., did not find a link between caffeine and preterm delivery, the association between birth weight and caffeine was strong. Researchers from the Norwegian Institute for Public Health studied more than 60,000 pregnancies over 10 years, and looked closely at the mothers' diets and the babies. What they found: no matter where the caffeine came from (whether coffee, chocolate, tea, or soda), for every 100 milligrams of caffeine consumed by the mother, the gestation weight of the baby decreased by 28 grams. What's also noteworthy: the gestation time increased by five hours for that 100 miligrams of caffeine consumed. Caffeine that came from coffee had an even more dramatic impact on gestation time; about eight hours for every 100 milligrams of caffeine.

That's a big red flag for researchers, as the World Health Organization's official recommendation is no more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day during pregnancy — as much as two cups of coffee.

List of Local Foods to Avoid to Minimise Risk of Stillbirth

Pregnant mamas, it would do you good to avoid these foods mentioned above during your pregnancy, for the health and safety of yourself and your unborn child.

Despite pregnancy being a time when food cravings (and sometimes aversions) hit strongly with not a care for time or convenience, we cannot, unfortunately, let loose and consume everything that hits our whims and fancies. There are certain foods to avoid when pregnant.

Every pregnant mama knows of the dangers of consuming alcohol while pregnant, but how aware are we of certain seemingly innocent foods that have been linked to miscarriage and stillbirth?

Pregnant women should pay heed to what they are consuming in order to avoid being at increased risk of stillbirth. Photo: iStock

Caffeine linked to low birth weight babies

Maternal nutrition is important to a developing embryo and to the health of the child later in life. Supplementing the diet with specific vitamins is known to increase health of the foetus for example folic acid (vitamin B9) reduces the risk of spina bifida. However not everything an adult might consume is beneficial to a developing baby. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine shows that caffeine is linked to low birth weight babies and that caffeine from coffee in linked to increasing length of pregnancy.

Along with nutrients and oxygen, caffeine feely passes the placental barrier, but the developing embryo does not express the enzymes required to inactivate it efficiently. The WHO currently suggests a limit of 300mg per day during pregnancy but some countries recommend a limit of 200mg, which can be less than a single cup of coffee from some high street cafes.

To investigate the impact of maternal caffeine during pregnancy on babies, a research team from the Norwegian Institute for Public Health used information about mother's diet and birth details collected over ten years. After excluding women with medical and pregnancy-related conditions almost 60,000 pregnancies were included in the study. All sources of caffeine were monitored in the study: coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, as well as food including cocoa-containing cakes and deserts and chocolate.

Explaining their results, Dr Verena Sengpiel, from Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden, who led the project said, "Although caffeine consumption is strongly correlated with smoking which is known to increase the risk for both preterm delivery and the baby being small for gestational age at birth (SGA). In this study we found no association between either total caffeine or coffee caffeine and preterm delivery but we did find an association between caffeine and SGA. This association remained even when we looked only at non-smoking mothers which implies that the caffeine itself is also having an effect on birth weight."

In fact they found that caffeine from all sources reduced birth weight. For a child of expected average weight (3.6kg) this equates to 21-28g lost per 100mg caffeine per day. But it was not just caffeine, but the source of caffeine, which affected pregnancy outcomes. Caffeine from all sources increased the length of the pregnancy by 5hr per 100mg caffeine per day, but caffeine intake from coffee was associated with an even longer gestational length - 8hr extra for every 100mg caffeine per day.

This association means that it is not just the caffeine in coffee which increases gestational length but either there must be a substance in coffee which is responsible for the extra time or there is a behaviour associated with coffee drinking not present in women who drink only tea (for example). SGA babies are at higher risk of both short term and lifelong health problems and it seems from these results that since even 200-300mg caffeine per day can increase the risk of SGA by almost a third these recommendations need to be re-evaluated.

Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3192 2370
Mob: +44 (0) 778 698 1967
Email: [email protected]

1. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with birth weight but not with gestational length: results from a large prospective observational cohort study Verena Sengpiel, Elisabeth Elind, Jonas Bacelis, Staffan Nilsson, Jakob Grove, Ronny Myhre, Margaretha Haugen, Helle M Meltzer, Jan Alexander, Bo Jacobsson and Anne-Lise Brantsæter BMC Medicine 2013, 11:42

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Coffee linked to low birth weight babies

According to a Swedish study, caffeine, the primary constituent of coffee, has been found to be associated with low birth weight babies and may also prolong pregnancy. Also Read - WHO Chief: Don't let your guard down, the pandemic is a 'long way from over'

A research team from the Norwegian Institute for Public Health, investigated the impact of maternal caffeine during pregnancy on babies, relying on information about mother’s diet and birth details collected over 10 years. After excluding women with medical and pregnancy-related conditions, nearly 60,000 pregnancies were included in the study. All sources of caffeine were monitored in the study: coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, as well as food including cocoa-containing cakes and deserts and chocolate, the journal BMC Medicine reports. Also Read - Coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from China lab: WHO

The World Health Organisation currently suggests a limit of 300mg per day during pregnancy but some countries recommend a limit of 200mg, which can be less than a single cup of coffee from some high street cafes. Also Read - Exposure to antibiotics linked to reduced weight and height in boys: Study

Verena Sengpiel, from Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden, who led the project said: ‘Caffeine consumption is strongly correlated with smoking which is known to increase the risk for both pre-term delivery and the baby being small for gestational age at birth (SGA).’ However, ‘we found no association between either total caffeine or coffee caffeine and pre-term delivery but we did find an association between caffeine and SGA,’ added Sengpiel, according to a Sahlgrenska statement.

In fact, they found that caffeine from all sources reduced birth weight. Caffeine from all sources extended pregnancy by five hours per 100 mg caffeine per day, but caffeine intake from coffee was tied to an even longer gestational length, eight hour extra for every 100 mg caffeine per day.

Rise in Coal Pollution Linked to Low Birth Weight in American Newborns

UCS further states that coal plants also happen to be the top contributor to America's carbon dioxide emissions which is also the major cause of global warming. Coal plants also lead to the emission of other toxic gases into the environment such as nitrogen dioxide, mercury, sulfur dioxide and other particulate matter.

To underline the prolonged and long-lasting effects of coal pollution on the environment as well as on human health, a researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania studied the aftermath of a nuclear (Three Mile Island) accident in Pennsylvania that happened in the year 1979. According to Edson Severnini, when the Southern state switched to coal power to derive power post the 1979 mishap, it led to a sharp fall in birth-weight of the newborns. When a couple of its nuclear plants in Tennessee were shut, coal became the source of power at these plants. The switch led to a 5.4% drop in the weight of the newborn babies of the Tennessee Valley. The area also had the highest level of pollution from coal particles emitted by the coal plants.

Children born at a low birth-weight are prone to a host of ailments and complications that can stunt their growth and meddle with the overall development of their body and mind. "Average birth weight declined approximately 134 grams (4.7 ounces) after the nuclear shutdown," said Edson Severnini, in the study published in the journal 'Nature Energy'.

The study aims to reflect the nuances of the ongoing debate that puts nuclear energy against coal energy. While most people point at some of the biggest nuclear tragedies in the world, the recent one being the Fukushima mishap, supporters of coal energy have their own reasons to advocate the efficacy of coal plants. All in all, more and more countries are now taking the greener way and embracing fossil-fuels to derive energy.

Caffeine Linked To Low-Birth-Weight Babies

WebMD Medical News

Reviewed by Keith Barnard, MD

Feb. 19, 2013 — New research suggests that caffeine is linked to low-birth-weight babies and that drinking coffee is linked to a longer pregnancy.

The report suggests that drinking 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day raised the risk of a baby being born small by between 27% and 62%.

Smaller babies have higher risks of certain health problems, and the researchers say recommendations on safe limits need to be reconsidered.

Baby Eats What Mom Eats

Everything the mom-to-be eats and drinks potentially gets through to the growing baby. That’s why health organizations set recommendations for limits on things like alcohol and caffeine in pregnancy.

Along with nutrients and oxygen, caffeine passes from the placenta to the baby. However, the effect isn’t the same on a baby as it is in adults.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends limiting caffeine to 200 milligrams per day. That&rsquos equal to two 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee. Caffeine levels may be stronger in coffee bought at a coffee house.

Caffeine is also found in tea, colas, energy drinks, and chocolate.

For the new research, published in the journal BMC Medicine, researchers looked at information about diets and birth details of about 60,000 pregnancies over 10 years.

All sources of caffeine were monitored in the study.

Study Results

In a news release, researcher Verena Sengpiel, MD, from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, says, “In this study we found no association between either total caffeine or coffee caffeine and preterm delivery, but we did find an association between caffeine and SGA [small for gestational age].”

The source of caffeine also seemed to make a difference. Women who daily had 100 milligrams of caffeine in general increased the length of their pregnancy by five hours. However, caffeine from coffee was found to add eight hours overall from drinking 100 milligrams a day.

Sengpiel says the study shows that the guidelines should be looked at again.

Reviewing Guidelines

So what should a coffee-loving pregnant woman with concerns do?

“Good advice would be to keep it to a minimum,&rdquo says Pat O&rsquoBrien, MD, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the U.K. &ldquoOne or a maximum of two cups a day.”

SOURCES:Sengpiel, V. BMC Medicine, published online Feb. 19, 2013.Pat O’Brien, MD, spokesman, Royal College of Obstetricians and GynaecologistsAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: &ldquoNutrition During Pregnancy.&rdquo

Low Birth Weight Linked to Autism

Babies who are unusually small at birth have a higher-than-average risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) later in life, a new study suggests.

MONDAY, October 17, 2011 ( — Babies who are unusually small at birth have a higher-than-average risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) later in life, a new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests.

Beginning in 1984, researchers followed 1,105 babies who weighed less than 4 pounds, 7 ounces at birth, and they found that 5% of them met the criteria for ASD by age 21𠅊 rate roughly five times higher than that in the general population of children.

The rate seen in the study is "quite striking" and underscores the importance of screening all children𠅎specially those who are born at a low birth weight𠅏or ASD at a young age, says lead researcher Jennifer Pinto-Martin, PhD, the director of the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, in Philadelphia.

"Developmental screening is often something that is pushed to the side," she says. "It&aposs important that we do a really good job of screening every single child."

Roughly 3% of U.S. newborns fall into the low-weight category used by the researchers (2,000 grams or less). Babies of this size are typically born prematurely, though certain pregnancy complications can also cause low birth weight in full-term babies.

Several previous studies have suggested that underweight or premature infants have a higher risk of autism. As with the new study, however, it&aposs not clear from this research whether low birth weight directly contributes to ASDs.

"For years we have known there&aposs a higher risk of delay and some impairments in some domains of development in low-birth-weight babies," says Diego Chaves-Gnecco, MD, a pediatrician at the Children&aposs Hospital of Pittsburgh who specializes in development and behavior.

But it&aposs difficult to attribute autism and other developmental problems to premature birth or low birth weight "because so many factors could be involved," says Dr. Chaves-Gnecco, who was not involved in the study.

Pinto-Martin and her colleagues periodically screened the children in the study for various developmental disabilities and delays beginning at age 2. When the participants were 16, the researchers screened slightly more than half of them for ASD. About 19% screened positive under a broad definition of ASD.

When the kids were 21, the researchers assessed a representative sample and found that 14 of 119 met the formal criteria for an ASD diagnosis. Extending these findings to the study participants as a whole, the researchers estimated the rate of ASD at 5%.

By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 0.9% of 8-year-olds in the United States have an ASD. (The CDC uses age 8 as an index age for measuring the overall rate of ASD, since most cases are identified by that age.)

"All pediatricians and primary care providers" should be doing the type of screening the researchers used throughout the study, Dr. Chaves-Gnecco says. "The earlier the diagnosis, the more intensive the services and the better the prognosis is for the child."

As the study suggests, however, there is a big difference between screening positive for a disability and receiving an autism diagnosis. This study is the first to assess ASD in low birth weight babies using the official diagnostic criteria for ASD.

Low birth weight babies "often have multiple disabilities𠅌ognitive disabilities, hearing and vision disabilities, and motor disabilities𠅊nd all of these can create a positive result on a developmental screen," Pinto-Martin says. "But that doesn&apost necessarily mean they would get a diagnosis of autism."

Although researchers have yet to confirm a cause-and-effect relationship between low birth weight and autism, the new findings may help explain the recent increase in the ASD rate in the U.S., Pinto-Martin says.

"The number of children with a diagnosis of autism is on the rise and [we] haven&apost been able to explain why," she says. "It&aposs partly a function of awareness and better diagnosis, but we do a better job of keeping tiny babies alive and this may be one consequence of that."

What you need more of

There are many nutrients you need more of when pregnant and the additional food you’re eating to meet your energy needs will cover most of them. There are, however, some nutrients that need special attention.

Folate and iodine

Folic acid and iodine supplements are recommended for all women planning a pregnancy or in the early stages of pregnancy. Both are subsidised and available at pharmacies.

Higher folate intakes are recommended before and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects. It’s extremely difficult to meet the recommended folate amounts with food alone.

Iodine is particularly important for normal brain development in the foetus as well as in infants. Low iodine levels are common in pregnant women because of changes in hormone function affecting the thyroid gland. An iodine supplement is recommended throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.

  • Sources: As well as taking the recommended supplements, boost your folate by eating plenty of green vegetables, yeast spreads, wholegrain bread and having breakfast cereals which have been fortified with folate. Iodine is found in seaweed (you can chop a nori sheet up and sprinkle it over your salad), bread (as the salt used in most breads is iodised), fish, eggs and milk.

Vitamin D

If you’re low in vitamin D, your baby can be born with low vitamin D levels too, which can affect growth and even cause rickets (which can lead to deformed and broken bones). Some vitamin D is found in food but we produce most of it ourselves when our skin is exposed to the sun so make sure you allow some skin to be exposed to natural light every day (outside of the higher risk burning hours). People with darker skin or who get little sun exposure are at higher risk of low vitamin D levels. Discuss this with your doctor who can prescribe a supplement if necessary.

  • Sources: Fatty fish and eggs contain some vitamin D but the big message is to make sure you get outside every day.

Iron needs are 50 per cent higher when you’re pregnant. This is needed for foetal development and also to support your increased blood volume.

  • Sources: Meat and fish are the best sources of iron. Vegetarian sources include wholegrain breads and cereals, vegetables and legumes, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Boost iron absorption by eating vitamin C rich foods with iron-containing foods and avoid drinking tea at meals. Some women will need an iron supplement but be sure to get your LMC’s advice.

Vaginal Infection Tied to Low Birth Weight

A COMMON bacterial infection of the vagina has been linked to a 50 percent increase in the risk of delivering a baby of low birth weight in a large new study in five cities.

The infection, bacterial vaginosis, has also been called Gardnerella vaginitis and non-specific vaginitis. It is usually caused by a combination of bacteria.

More than 13,000 pregnant women participated in the federally sponsored study from 1984 to 1990. Bacterial vaginosis was diagnosed in 1,002, and 10 percent of them delivered a baby weighing less than 5.5 pounds, Dr. Sharon L. Hillier of the University of Washington in Seattle reported at a recent scientific meeting.

Such low-birth-weight babies are much more likely to have long-term learning deficits and other serious medical problems. More than half of the deaths among infants without anatomical or chromosomal defects are attributable to low birth weight.

Bacterial vaginosis was associated with about the same risk of low birth weight as smoking, a well-established cause, Dr. Hillier said. The findings suggested that antibiotic treatment in the fourth through sixth months of pregnancy reduced the incidence of low-birth-weight babies.

"It looks like bacterial vaginosis is a cause of low birth weight and if the infection is treated during the second trimester, you can prevent" the complication, Dr. Hillier said in an interview. However, she said that additional studies were needed on the most effective treatment for the infection.

Besides the University of Washington, the hospitals in the study included Columbia Presbyterian and Harlem Hospitals in New York City, Charity Hospital in New Orleans, the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio.

Snoring mothers-to-be linked to low birth weight babies

Mothers-to-be who snore are more likely to give birth to smaller babies, a study has found. Snoring during pregnancy was also linked to higher rates of Caesarean delivery.

Experts said snoring may be a sign of breathing problems that could deprive an unborn baby of oxygen.

Previous research has shown women who start to snore during pregnancy are at risk from high blood pressure and the potentially dangerous pregnancy condition pre-eclampsia.

More than a third of the 1,673 pregnant women recruited for the US study reported habitual snoring.

Scientists found women who snored in their sleep three or more nights a week had a higher risk of poor delivery outcomes, including smaller babies and Caesarean births.

Chronic snorers, who snored both before and during pregnancy, were two-thirds more likely to have a baby whose weight was in the bottom 10%.

They were also more than twice as likely to need an elective Caesarean delivery, or C-section, compared with non-snorers.

Dr Louise O'Brien, from the University of Michigan's Sleep Disorders Centre, said: "There has been great interest in the implications of snoring during pregnancy and how it affects maternal health but there is little data on how it may impact the health of the baby.

"We've found that chronic snoring is associated with both smaller babies and C-sections, even after we accounted for other risk factors. This suggests that we have a window of opportunity to screen pregnant women for breathing problems during sleep that may put them at risk of poor delivery outcomes."

Women who snored both before and during pregnancy were more likely to have smaller babies and elective C-sections, the researches found. Those who started snoring only during pregnancy had a higher risk of both elective and emergency Caesareans, but not of smaller babies.

Snoring is a key sign of obstructive sleep apnoea, which results in the airway becoming partially blocked, said the researchers, whose findings appear in the journal Sleep.

This can reduce blood oxygen levels during the night and is associated with serious health problems, including high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Sleep apnoea can be treated with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), which involves wearing a machine during sleep to keep the airways open.

Dr O'Brien added: "If we can identify risks during pregnancy that can be treated, such as obstructive sleep apnoea, we can reduce the incidence of small babies, C-sections and possibly NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) admission that not only improve long-term health benefits for newborns but also help keep costs down."


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