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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2013 Oct;26(15):1465-7. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2013.783813. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

The effects of different concentrations of cocoa in the chocolate intaken by the mother on fetal heart rate.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Università Politecnica Marche , Ancona , Italy.



To analyze the effects of different concentrations (30% and 80%) of cocoa on fetal heart rate (FHR).


One hundred pregnant women with uncomplicated gestation, matched for age and parity, underwent computerized FHR recording before and after the consumption of 30 g of 30% and 80% cocoa chocolate. After 1 week, those who had received 30% were shifted to 80% and vice versa to have a crossover. Computerized cardiotocography parameters (contractions, fetal movements, baseline FHR, accelerations greater than 15 bpm for 15 s, number of decelerations, minutes of high variability, short term variability in ms) were recorded and expressed as mean and SD. The differences were tested for statistical significance using the paired t test, with the significance at p < 0.05. The percent change after chocolate intake for accelerations and short-term FHR variation was calculated.


The number of fetal movements, accelerations, the duration of episodes of high variation and the short-term FHR variation were significantly higher (p < 0.0001) after 80% cocoa intake. After 30% cocoa chocolate intake, only the number of accelerations was significantly increased. The percent change of the number of accelerations and the short-term FHR variation were significantly higher after 80% cocoa chocolate maternal intake.


Maternal intake of dark chocolate has a stimulating action on fetal reactivity. The effect is more marked with high concentrations (80%) of cocoa. This finding is likely due to the pharmacological action of theobromine, a methilxanthine present in cocoa.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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