The one piece of my advice pregnant women should ignore

As you know, I've been a huge advocate of caffeine going back over 30 years. I've told you many times about the amazing health benefits you can get from the average "cuppa joe"-its invigorating effect on the mind, its vitamins, and even its cancer-fighting antioxidants. And this latest item hasn't changed my mind one bit. But that's easy for me to say, because I'm not likely to get pregnant any time soon.

According to a new study that's just been released, pregnant women who consume over 200 mg of caffeine per day have TWICE the risk of miscarriage than women who consume no caffeine at all. Two hundred milligrams of caffeine is roughly the amount that's found in just two cups of coffee.

The problem with caffeine is that it can be easily absorbed into the placenta and transferred to the still-developing fetus, which can't metabolize the substance. Throw in the potential for caffeine to influence fetal cell development and decrease critical blood flow to the nourishing placenta and well, if more pregnant women knew about these facts, they'd probably stay as far away from caffeine as they would from rat poison.

The fact that only 200 mgs can have such a devastating effect on a pregnancy is big - and scary - news. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn't have a recommended caffeine limit for pregnant women, and it even states on their website that "There's no proof that small amounts of caffeine (for instance one or two cups of coffee) harm the fetus." (I assume that this little bit of information will get modified quickly.)

The study also found that the source of the caffeine DID NOT MATTER. Those potentially damaging 200 mg can come from coffee, tea, soda, hot chocolate, candy bars any place where caffeine is found. Unfortunately, most people have the misconception that most caffeine comes from beverages - but that's incredibly far from the truth. Any man who's seen his pregnant wife indulge in a couple of helpings of chocolate ice cream during a first-trimester craving is sure to shudder at this.

It's hard to believe that a substance with such incredible health benefits such as caffeine could have such a dark side. But caffeine is hardly the only of my favorite natural remedies that pregnant women are told to avoid. Omega-3 rich fish and raw eggs? Most pregnant moms are told to stay away.

When so little caffeine has been found to increase the potential risks of a pregnancy so significantly, it makes you wonder why any expecting mother would play around with consuming any caffeine at all. I was surprised to read that one obstetrician reviewed the findings of the study and concurred that there's "a definitive correlation between caffeine consumption and miscarriage"-and yet stated only that pregnant women should "significantly decrease" the intake of caffeine.

"Cutting down" doesn't cut it. If I were you, I'd tell my daughter or granddaughter to lay off the caffeine altogether while she's pregnant. Better safe than sorry.

He ain't heavy, he's my father: Tubby dad wins custody

Here's a little item that I found interesting: A 550-pound man claims that he and his wife were denied a petition to adopt an eight-month-old baby boy last summer because of the man's weight. Of course, the court claims it played no role in the denial of the petition. Instead, they're saying that the couple was denied because they had not followed proper filing procedures.

But suppose the court admitted that the adoption HAD been denied due to the man's weight. Could anyone have blamed that judge?

Think about it: Adoptions rulings are supposed to be made in the CHILD'S best interest. How could handing over a child to a would-be father who is morbidly obese possibly be in the child's interest? A man of that size is likely to keel (or roll) over at any moment from all manner of weight-related health issues. Is it right to put an orphan in a situation where he's likely to be re-orphaned at any moment?

It's akin to granting an adoption to a 95-year-old couple or a terminally ill person. It just makes no sense. But in today's overly litigious atmosphere, the court had to hide behind "administrative errors" rather than tell the plain, common-sense truth: No kid for you, fat boy. In our oversized country, this type of case is bound to be weighty issue in the future.

The story doesn't end there. Last fall, Stocklaufer underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost 200 pounds. Then, last month, he and his wife were awarded custody of the baby. Whether the weight loss affected the court's decision, wellwe'll never know for sure. In any case, it was a win-win situation for everyone involved: Stocklaufer lost some much-needed weight, and the baby got a dad that's more likely to live to see his high school graduation.