Drinking too much caffeine in pregnancy puts children at risk of obesity
Babies exposed to high levels of caffeine in the womb are more likely to go on to be overweight children, a new study suggests.
The latest study, published in the journal 'BMJ Open', concluded that exposure to moderate to high caffeine levels while in the womb is linked to excess weight gain in early childhood.
The research, led by experts from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, found that children exposed to very high levels of caffeine can weigh 480g more when they are aged eight compared with children exposed to low caffeine levels.
The authors said their work supported advice to reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy.
Guidelines advise pregnant women to limit caffeine consumption to no more than 200mg a day. A mug of instant coffee, on average, contains 100mg of caffeine while a mug of tea has 75mg. Filter coffee has higher caffeine levels with the average cup containing 140mg of caffeine. While caffeine is mostly associated with hot drinks, it can also be found in energy drinks, some cans of fizzy drinks and chocolate bars.
In the latest study, experts examined data from more than 50,000 Norwegian women and their babies. Around half (46pc) of pregnant women were considered to have low caffeine consumption - less than 50mg a day; a further 44pc had a moderate level of consumption - between 50 and 199mg; 7pc had high levels of consumption of between 200mg and 299mg a day; and 3pc had very high levels of more than 300mg.
The authors compared data to information on child body measurements taken at 11 different stages throughout childhood until they were eight.
Youngsters exposed to very high levels of caffeine before birth weighed 67-83g more in infancy, 110-136g more as toddlers, 213-320g more as pre-schoolers and 480g more at the age of eight, experts found.