Pregnant Women Needn’t Rule Out Caffeine

Pregnant Women Needn’t Rule Out CaffeinePregnant Women Needn’t Rule Out Caffeine

Pregnant women reaching for the occasional cup of coffee shouldn’t worry whether it will affect their children’s intelligence or behavior down the road, according to a new study.

The study by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that moderate caffeine exposure during pregnancy does not lead to reduced IQ or increased behavioral problems later in childhood, Columbus Dispatch reportsý.

Researchers examined blood samples taken between 1959 and 1975 from more than 2,000 expectant mothers. The samples originally were taken to look for infection during pregnancy but were kept for later research studies, said Dr. Mark Klebanoff, principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research.

Because that was an era when coffee consumption during pregnancy was more prevalent, researchers were able to investigate a broader range of caffeine intake than if a similar study were performed today.

They looked at caffeine levels at two points in pregnancy, then compared those levels to the child’s IQ and behavior at ages 4 and 7. The results showed there were no consistent patterns between a mother’s caffeine intake and the development and behavior of their children at those ages, Klebanoff said.

 “These results provide at least some reassurance that caffeine, at the amounts that most people would be drinking, is not likely to have an important impact on the development of their children,” he said.

Researchers have conducted many studies looking for links between caffeine exposure and miscarriages, premature births and birth weight.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says moderate caffeine consumption — less than 200 milligrams per day or one tall cup at Starbucks — doesn’t appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth.

However, caffeine’s impact on growth remains undetermined. And few studies have examined how caffeine exposure during pregnancy impacts a child down the line, Klebanoff said.

Many pregnant women limit caffeine because of a perceived risk, said Dr. Mona Prasad, a maternal and fetal medicine specialist for Mount Carmel Health System. But it can be difficult for many women to give up caffeine completely, she said.

“They don’t want to admit to (consuming caffeine) necessarily,” she said. “It still happens, but they’re less likely to discuss it with their physicians.”

Being able to pair caffeine consumption with long-term outcomes in children gives women more information to make knowledgeable decisions during pregnancy, Prasad said.