Moderate Amounts of Caffeine May Be Safe During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman drinking coffee in bedA moderate amount of caffeine during pregnancy is unlikely to affect the future Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of a developing fetus, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has found.

Pregnant women are often advised to quit drinking coffee during pregnancy. For some, this is a challenging feat that can lead to headaches, anxiety, muscle pain, drowsiness, and other negative effects.

Caffeine, Pregnancy, and Future IQ

To explore the effects of caffeine consumption on pregnancy, researchers gathered data on 2,197 pregnant women who participated in the Collaborative Perinatal Project between 1959 and 1974. The authors of the study say caffeine consumption during pregnancy was more common during this era, making it easier to explore the effects of a broad range of caffeine consumption in pregnant women.

To assess how much caffeine a woman consumed, researchers looked at paraxanthine, one of caffeine’s primary metabolites, at about 20 and 26 weeks gestation. They then asked about problem behaviors and IQ in children ages 4 and 7.

Researchers adjusted for factors that can affect children’s behavior and IQ—such as maternal age, race, smoking, and educational level—then used a linear regression analysis to find out if there were any correlations between maternal caffeine consumption and children’s IQ and behavioral problems. They did not find any such correlations.

Should Women Consume Caffeine During Pregnancy?

The latest study only looked at caffeine’s effect on IQ and behavior—not all possible side effects of caffeine consumption. Though there is much research on the effects of caffeine consumption during pregnancy, the results are mixed and sometimes contradictory. Some research says caffeine crosses the placenta, and some research suggests it keeps a gestating fetus awake. It may also cause birth defects, premature labor, and low birth rate.

Two studies produced conflicting results regarding caffeine’s association with miscarriage. One found that drinking more than 200 milligrams (equivalent to about one 12-ounce cup of coffee) of caffeine per day doubled the risk of miscarriage. A similar study found women who consumed between 200 and 350 milligrams of caffeine per day had no increased risk of miscarriage.

Because the science is conflicting and researchers have not yet explored all possible effects of caffeine, most doctors advise pregnant women to limit their caffeine consumption. The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women stick to less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day.

References:

  1. Caffeine intake during pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/caffeine-during-pregnancy/
  2. Klebanoff, M. A., & Keim, S. A. (2015). Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and child cognition and behavior at 4 and 7 years of age. American Journal of Epidemiology. doi:10.1093/aje/kwv136
  3. Moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy do not harm baby’s IQ, study suggests. (2015, November 19). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151119211435.htm

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  • Jane

    Jane

    November 30th, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    I was so careful when I was pregnant, didn’t drink coffee, eat fish, cut out numerous cheeses… so I wish that this had been the prevailing view back then! I could have used a little pep in my step every now and then!

  • Sabine

    Sabine

    November 30th, 2015 at 3:49 PM

    If there are pretty steady guidelines about how much quantifies moderate use then yes I think that I would feel comfortable with women having caffeine while pregnant. But I do think that there has to be a specific amount because what is moderate for one person may seem over the top to someone else. You just have to spell it out for us which amount is going to be the least harmful to the baby.

  • Michelle

    Michelle

    December 2nd, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    So happy to find out that caffeine is no longer on the list of food/drinks that pregnant women are asked to avoid altogether. When we started to try to get pregnant, I tried to give up my daily morning cups of coffee. I was able to cut back but not give it up altogether. I am just not awake in the morning without a cup of coffee. So I’m excited with this news! Hopefully, I get a positive soon on the free ttckit early result PTs I got!

  • stella h

    stella h

    December 2nd, 2015 at 2:36 PM

    So who is really going to be willing to take that chance now after all of these years of hearing that it is bad for any pregnant woman?

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