Pregnant women CAN drink coffee – it could even slash risk of disease for mum and baby

PREGNANT women don’t have to ditch their daily coffee, a new study reveals.

And in an added bonus, it could even slash the risk of diseases for mum and baby.

But experts warn that expectant mums should never go over 200mg of caffeine per day – the equivalent of two cups instant coffee or a two teas and a can of cola.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at 2,529 pregnant women who were involved in a study between 2009 and 2013. 

At the start of the study, each woman reported how much caffeine they drank in tea, coffee and energy drinks.

Caffeine was also measured in blood tests at 10 and 13 weeks of pregnancy.

Then, the team looked at diagnoses of a host of diseases that can occur during pregnancy.

They found that drinking 100mg of coffee per day – around one mug of instant coffee – was linked to a 47 per cent reduction in diabetes risk.

Gestational diabetes is when an expectant mum develops high blood sugar that usually disappears after giving birth.

It’s treatable and normally mums have healthy babies.

However, it can put mums at risk of getting type 2 diabetes in the future, a chronic condition that needs life-long management with diet, exercise and sometimes medication. 

It may also cause problems with delivering the baby, the NHS warns.

Mums may go into labour early, be induced or have a C-section due to the baby growing too large or there being too much fluid in the womb.

The baby could also be born with jaundice, a liver problem that causes yellowing of the skin and eyes, needing hospital treatment.

In very rare instances, gestational diabetes can cause stillbirth.

Although anyone can get gestational diabetes, other drivers of the condition include being overweight or being of south Asian, Black, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin.

Women who are deemed at risk of the condition are offered screening on the NHS when they fall pregnant.

“Our findings may provide some reassurance to women who already are consuming low to moderate levels of caffeine,” said Dr Stefanie Hinkle, an assistant professor of Epidemiology at Penn and the study lead.

However, she added: “It would not be advised for women who are non-drinkers to initiate caffeinated beverage consumption for the purpose of lowering gestational diabetes risk.”

The study did not find that drinking coffee reduced the risk of other pregnancy complications – high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia.

But Dr Hinkle said “we know that low-to-moderate caffeine is not associated with an increased risk” of these problems.

Experts, including the NHS and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), say pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to 200mg per day.

At higher levels, research has shown it could cause miscarriage or low birth weight.

Some researchers say there is “no safe level” of caffeine consumption for those who are expecting or trying for a baby.

The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

What foods and drink should pregnant women avoid?

When a woman gets pregnant, there are certain foods and drinks she needs to be wary of.

They may cause harm to her or the foetus.

The NHS says to avoid:

  • mould-ripened soft cheeses with a white coating on the outside, such as brie, camembert and chèvre (unless cooked until steaming hot)
  • soft blue cheeses such as danish blue, gorgonzola and roquefort (unless cooked until steaming hot)
  • any unpasteurised cows' milk, goats' milk or sheep's milk
  • any foods made from unpasteurised milk, such as soft goats' cheese
  • raw or undercooked meat
  • liver and liver products
  • all types of pâté, including vegetarian pâté
  • game meats such as goose, partridge or pheasant
  • raw or partially cooked eggs that are not British Lion
    duck, goose or quail eggs, unless cooked thoroughly until the whites and yolks are solid
  • no more than two portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel or herring
  • no more than 2 tuna steaks (about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or 4 medium-size cans of tuna (about 140g when drained) per week
  • swordfish
  • marlin
  • shark
  • raw shellfish
  • liquorice root
  • no more than four herbal teas a day
  • no more than 200mg of caffeine a day
  • alcohol

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