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article imageDoes caffeine pose a risk during pregnancy?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 19, 2013 in Health
Caffeine during pregnancy could be bad for pregnant women. Scientists found the stimulant altered the brain cells of newborns whose moms had consumed caffeine during and after pregnancy.
These research findings are based on mice, where pregnant mice were given caffeine. It was found, according to Science News, that the pups later grew up to have memory problems, which the researchers suggest indicates that caffeine can alter the neural pathways in the brain of a developing baby.
For the study, female mice drank water treated with caffeine during pregnancy and while nursing their young. The amount of caffeine was comparable to what a woman would get if she drank three or four cups of coffee a day.
After the study, the researchers examined a small part of the brain called the hippocampus in the new-born mice. This region is a memory center in the brain. The researchers found that the cells became overactive in new-born mice exposed to caffeine. The researchers put the mice bred from mothers who had drunk the caffeinated water through memory tests and compared the reactions of the mice to a control group. It was found that the mice bred from the caffeine drinking mothers performed worse.
It is important to point out that the new findings may not relate to pregnant women because human and mouse brains develop quite differently. However, the finding does point towards the need for more research into pregnant women and the use of stimulants.
The study was a joint project between the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Marseille and the University of Coimbra in Portugal. The research has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
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