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Maternal Caffeine Intake May Be Tied to Negative Pregnancy Outcomes

Caffeine-related increased risk reported with moderate-to-high levels of consistency for five outcomes

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TUESDAY, Aug. 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal caffeine consumption is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes, according to a review published online Aug. 24 in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.

Jack E. James, Ph.D., from Reykjavik University in Iceland, examined evidence of an association between maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes using data from 48 original observational studies and meta-analyses. Results were reported for one or more of six major categories of negative pregnancy outcomes: miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age, preterm birth, childhood acute leukemia, and childhood overweight or obesity.

James found that 32 sets of findings indicated significantly increased caffeine-related risk and 10 suggested no or inconclusive associations. For all pregnancy outcomes except preterm birth, caffeine-related increased risk was reported with moderate-to-high levels of consistency. Unanimity was observed among 14 meta-analyses that showed that maternal caffeine consumption was associated with an increased risk for the outcome categories of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age, and childhood acute leukemia. There was absence of a reliable association between maternal caffeine consumption and preterm birth in the three remaining meta-analyses. No meta-analyses reported on childhood overweight and obesity; in four of five observational studies, significant associations were observed.

"Current health recommendations concerning caffeine consumption during pregnancy are in need of radical revision," James writes. "Specifically, the cumulative scientific evidence supports pregnant women and women contemplating pregnancy being advised to avoid caffeine."

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