Overweight Children – an effect of coffee on pregnancy

A study published in the BMJ Open journal shows that even moderate coffee consumption during pregnancy, one to two cups per day, is related to a risk of overweight or obesity in school age children. It has not been clearly shown if caffeine is the direct cause of the overweight, but the relationship, alone, has caused researchers to encourage increased caution.

Being overweight in childhood has previously been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes later in life. “There may be good cause to increase the restriction of the recommended maximum of three cups of coffee per day.

Caffeine is not a medicine that needs to be consumed,” says Verena Sengpiel, Associate Professor in obstetrics and gynaecology at Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden, and specialist physician at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, studied information on 50,943 pregnant women, in one of the world’s largest health surveys of pregnant women, the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa).

The results show that children born to mothers who consumed caffeine during pregnancy are at greater risk of being overweight at preschool and school ages. Children were followed until eight years of age. For example, at age five, the share of children who were overweight or obese was five percent greater in the group whose mothers had the highest caffeine consumption in the study, compared to those whose mothers had the lowest caffeine consumption.

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The association between caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of excess growth and overweight or obesity in children could also be seen in women who had followed the recommended amount for pregnant women.

According to the National Food Agency, Sweden, pregnant women should not consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is equivalent to three cups of coffee (1.5 dl each) or six mugs of black tea (2 dl each).

The results of the current study are supported by at least two other studies; however, these included significantly fewer subjects and fewer sources of caffeine. This time, coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks and other sources were included.

In general, the gestational environment is viewed as being important in the turning off and on of genes and metabolic programming for the duration of life. Previous animal studies, where embryos were exposed to caffeine in the womb, were also followed by excess growth and cardiometabolic disease in the offspring.

General caution

If you have high cholesterol, please choose filtered coffee. Coffee beans contain cafestol and kahweol, two ingredients that appear to raise LDL cholesterol levels. Filtering the coffee traps most of the LDL, but cafestol and kahweol are found in espresso, turkish coffee, french press and scandinavian style “cooked coffee”.

Bad coffee can be toxic. Bad quality coffee can have a lot of impurities in it, which can cause sickness, headache or a general bad feeling. This can happen if your coffee is made from beans that have been over ripped or otherwise ruined. Even one ruined bean can make your cup toxic. If you invest and buy high quality speciality coffee, you don’t have to worry about this.

Coffee can also be fatal to you  if you drink 80-100 cups (23 litres) in a short session. This dose is lethal and will amount in 10-13 grams of caffeine within your body. Before you reach this point, however, you’ll be vomiting most of it out since 23 litres of any liquid is a lot. Even drinking 23 litres of water can kill you.

Finally, don’t drink more than one cup a day if you’re pregnant. Studies on coffee’s effect on a fetus have been controversial, but one thing is sure: if you drink coffee when pregnant, caffeine will also reach the fetus, and your baby is highly sensitive to caffeine. So, if you’re a heavyweight coffee drinker and can’t stop drinking it while pregnant, at least reduce your coffee intake to one cup a day.

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