Effects of regular and decaffeinated coffee on fetal breathing and heart rate

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      The effects of maternal consumption of regular or decaffeinated coffee on the fetus were determined in eight pregnant women at 32 to 36 weeks of gestation. This was a single-blind crossover study in which two cups of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee were consumed after an overnight fast. The total maternal caffeine ingested was 454 ± 4 mg for regular coffee and 12 ± 0.4 mg for decaffeinated coffee. Maternal consumption of regular coffee was associated with a twofold increase in the incidence of fetal breathing activity and a significant fall in baseline fetal heart rate. Decaffeinated coffee also increased the incidence of fetal breathing activity and produced a slight reduction in fetal heart rate. These results indicate that maternal consumption of regular and decaffeinated coffee can stimulate fetal breathing. Moreover, these results suggest that caffeinated coffee can produce baseline shifts in fetal heart rate. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1989;160:1043-7.)

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