Exceeding healthy caffeine limits during pregnancy can be harmful to babies’ health

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Study findings show that too much caffeine can affect babies’ ability to grow and gain weight

Quitting caffeine, especially during pregnancy, can be difficult for many women. While moderation is key, a new study found that those who can’t limit their caffeine intake could be putting their babies in harm’s way. 

According to researchers from the Society for Endocrinology, consuming two to three cups of coffee per day during pregnancy can impede a newborn’s liver development, as well as increase the likelihood of liver disease as an adult. It can also affect babies’ overall growth and development. 

“Our work suggests that prenatal caffeine is not good for babies and although these findings still need to be confirmed in people, I would recommend that women avoid caffeine during pregnancy,” said researcher Dr. Yinxian Wen. 

Caffeine in moderation

The researchers used mice as test subjects to determine how caffeine during pregnancy can affect newborns’ liver function and overall growth and development. Pregnant mice were chosen for either low caffeine consumption, which is around two or three cups of coffee per day, or high caffeine consumption, which came out to anywhere from six to nine cups of coffee per day. 

The researchers discovered that caffeine, even in lower doses, can affect newborns at birth, as those exposed to caffeine in the womb had higher levels of the stress hormone corticosteroid when they were born.

The study also revealed that caffeine consumption during pregnancy affected the way newborns grew and developed overall due to compromised growth factors in the liver.

Healthy consumption of caffeine

One recent study had consumers rethinking if their coffee habit has gotten out of hand. 

While researchers have found that coffee could help consumers live longer, drinking the beverage in excess -- anything more than six cups per day -- can negatively affect health. 

Researchers also warn against kids consuming too much caffeine, particularly in the form of energy drinks. 

“Our review of the available science showed that excessive levels of caffeine found in energy drinks can have adverse effects on cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, renal and endocrine systems, as well as psychiatric symptoms,” said researcher Dr. John Higgins.

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