Pregnant women warned of risk of consuming coffee


Mothers-to-be have been advised to ditch their daily cup of coffee as a new health report outlines possible risks during pregnancy.

Evidence reported in the BMJ Evidence Based Medicine Journal, published today, suggests maternal caffeine consumption is linked with negative pregnancy outcomes, with the author concluding there is no "safe level" of consumption.

Professor Jack James from Reykjavik University in Iceland analysed 1261 peer-reviewed articles linking caffeine to pregnancy outcomes.

Studies in the past two decades reported results for one or more of six major negative pregnancy outcomes including miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age, childhood acute leukaemia and childhood obesity, but not preterm birth.

Currently, pregnant women are advised that consuming a small amount of caffeine daily will not harm their baby. The total amount set by the UK NHS, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the European Food Safety Authority is 200 mg of caffeine, which approximates to two cups of moderate-strength coffee per day.

However, Prof James states in his research there is no safe level of caffeine consumption for pregnant women or would-be mothers.

While the findings are observational and can't establish cause-and-effect, the author says current health recommendations concerning caffeine consumption during pregnancy are in need of "radical revision".


Yasmin De Geer with her son Jackson, four months. Picture: Annette Dew
Yasmin De Geer with her son Jackson, four months. Picture: Annette Dew


"Specifically, the cumulative scientific evidence supports pregnant women and women contemplating pregnancy being advised to avoid caffeine," he said.

Brisbane mum Yasmin De Geer was a coffee addict and had previously worked as a barista for years, but during her first pregnancy with her baby, Jackson, she decided to completely quit caffeine.

"I was pretty cautious about many things I was consuming," she told The Courier-Mail.

"I got very sick in my first trimester so I didn't even want it. By the second trimester I decided to not have it as my husband had read some research that consuming caffeine can lead to babies being higher in neuroticism.

"I decided that I didn't want my baby having daily caffeine even if it was a small amount it didn't feel right. So I just stopped … but I thought if it affects my nervous system surely it would influence my baby in some way."

De Geer has one coffee a day now, and said she wanted to be safe and provide the best opportunity for her baby, who is now four-months-old.

Originally published as Mums-to-be, say goodbye to another of life's pleasures