Pregnant women should completely avoid chocolate, coffee - study

In unwelcome news for mothers-to-be everywhere, women should avoid both coffee and chocolate altogether throughout pregnancy. 

That's according to a new study out of Reykjavik University in Iceland which has assessed the impact of caffeine on expectant mothers.

The peer-reviewed research published this week in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine analysed more than 1200 studies of caffeine's effect on pregnancy and found "increased risk … for at least five major negative pregnancy outcomes". 

These outcomes include "miscarriage, stillbirth, lower birth weight and/or small for gestational age, childhood acute leukaemia, and childhood overweight and obesity."

The study's authors say the results suggest current health recommendations regarding caffeine during pregnancy require "radical revision".

However other experts have disagreed. 

Dr Christopher Zahn from American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told CNN there is no need for "immediate change to the current guidance" based on the research. 

"Our guidance remains that moderate caffeine consumption, less than 200mg per day, does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth," Dr Zahn told CNN. 

In New Zealand, there is no official guidance on the Ministry of Health website regarding caffeine during pregnancy, although the MoH warns against the consumption of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. 

Guidance on "eating well and safely" throughout pregnancy instead focuses on drinking enough fluid and eating a balanced diet, and cautioning against foods which may potentially contain salmonella, campylobacter or toxoplasma.