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Energy drinks increase stillbirth risk but pregnant women’s caffeine guidance is confusing

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Expectant mothers are being warned about potentially confusing guidance on consuming caffeine while pregnant, as research suggests energy drinks could have potentially deadly consequences for their babies.

A new report by Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre claims to have established a 27 per cent rise in the risk of stillbirth for each 100mg of caffeine consumed.

Researchers compared stillbirths to ongoing pregnancies among 1,000 women across 41 hospitals from 2014 to 2016 as well as interviewing women about their consumption of caffeinated drinks. They adjusted for demographic and behavioural factors, such as age and alcohol consumption, to determine whether stillbirth was linked to caffeine.

One in 20 women were found to have increased their caffeine intake while pregnant in spite of evidence some caffeinated drinks put babies lives at risk. However, experts say that calculating precise intake can be difficult, and guidance on limiting caffeine is not consistent

The NHS recommends pregnant women keep their daily caffeine intake below 200mg whereas the World Health Organization stipulates 300mg as the safe amount to consume.

Tommy’s, a leading baby charity, called for both the NHS and the World Health Organisation to rethink such guidelines, but refused to outline a specific limit - saying it was the NHS and World Health Organisation’s responsibility to decide the recommendations in light of their new study.

Professor Alexander Heazell, an author of the study, said: “Caffeine has been in our diets for a long time, and, as with many things we like to eat and drink, large amounts can be harmful – especially during pregnancy. It’s a relatively small risk, so people shouldn’t be worried about the occasional cup of coffee, but it’s a risk this research suggests many aren’t aware of."

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Source: The Independent, 18 November 2020

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