Medicine: Caffeine Nerves

A warning to pregnant women

When next a pregnant woman reaches for a cup of that old pick-me-up, she should be urged to put it down. So advised the Food and Drug Administration last week. For coffee—like tea, cola drinks, chocolate and cocoa, and some drugs—contains caffeine, and, says the FDA, that substance may be linked to birth defects.

Caffeine is a stimulant known to penetrate the placenta and reach the fetus. A new FDA study has shown harmful effects on the offspring of 305 pregnant rats force-fed caffeine through a tube into the stomach. Those that consumed caffeine in amounts equivalent to...

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