drinking three cups of tea a day during pregnancy increases the risk of having overweight children, according to a study of more than 50,000 mothers.
It found pregnant women who consumed more than 200mg a day of caffeine were more likely to have children that are overweight at preschool and school ages.
The study, which was carried out by researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, tracked the weight of children up to the age of eight and was one of the world’s largest health surveys of pregnant women.
It has prompted Swedish researchers to encourage increased caution when consuming caffeine during a pregnancy.
“Caffeine is a substance that you can choose to reduce consumption of, or completely refrain from during pregnancy,” said Verena Sengpiel, associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy.
Researchers found that when the children were five years old the number who were overweight or obese was five percent greater in the group whose mothers had the highest caffeine consumption, compared to those whose mothers had the lowest caffeine consumption.
Currently, the NHS advises pregnant women to limit daily caffeine consumption to 200mg, which is the equivalent of three cups of tea or two cups of coffee.