Drinking six coffees can lead to smaller babies

Pregnant women who drink six cups of coffee every day may have smaller babies than women who consume less caffeine, according to a Dutch study.

Researchers in Rotterdam followed more than 7,300 women from early pregnancy onward of whom between 2 and 3pc said they consumed the caffeine equivalent of six cups of coffee per day. On average, their babies' length at birth was slightly shorter than that of newborns whose mothers had consumed less caffeine. Researcher Rachel Bakker said: "Caffeine intake seems to affect length growth of the foetus from the first trimester onwards."

Heavy caffeine consumers also had an increased risk of having a baby who was small for gestational age -- smaller than the norm for the baby's sex and the week of pregnancy during it was born.

That finding, however, was based on a small number of babies. Of 104 infants born to women with the highest caffeine intakes, seven were small for gestational age.

Researchers have also come to conflicting conclusions as to whether caffeine affects the risk of miscarriage.