MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mark A. Klebanoff, MD
Center for Perinatal Research
The Research Institute
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Klebanoff: Caffeine is among the substances most commonly consumed by pregnant women. There are numerous sources of caffeine in the diet—regular (non-decaf) coffee, regular tea, many soft drinks, energy drinks, and some power bars. Even chocolate contains some caffeine. It’s also included in some over the counter pain relievers, and in over the counter ‘keep awake’ pills such as No-Doz. As a result of its wide availability, most pregnant women consume at least some caffeine. In spite of over 30 years of research, whether moderate amounts of caffeine (up to 200 milligrams, the amount contained in about 2 normal-sized cups of coffee, per day) during pregnancy are harmful is uncertain. However almost all previous research has been about events related to pregnancy, such as difficulty becoming pregnant, miscarriage, birth defects, and the size of the newborn. Whether maternal caffeine use during pregnancy has an impact on things later in childhood, such as obesity and neurologic development, has hardly been studied.
We used a biomarker, measured in the mother’s blood during pregnancy, for caffeine use, and found that more caffeine use was not associated with the child’s body mass index at either 4 or 7 years of age, and that at blood levels of the marker that we saw in the vast majority, caffeine was not associated with the child’s IQ, nor with behavioral abnormalities at those ages.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Klebanoff: Our findings are reassuring that moderate caffeine use during pregnancy, such as the amount that is in 2 normal size (8-10 ounce) cups of coffee per day, is unlikely to have a harmful impact on the child’s growth or development.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Klebanoff: Future research should evaluate maternal caffeine intake from report, in addition to from a blood marker. It should also look at the specific source of caffeine, such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, etc. These drinks have many other substances in them, in addition to caffeine.
Mark A. Klebanoff and Sarah A. Keim. Maternal Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy and Child Cognition and Behavior at 4 and 7 Years of Age.
American Journal of Epidemiology, November 2015 DOI:1093/aje/kwv136
Mark A. Klebanoff, MD (2015). Moderate Coffee During Pregnancy Unlikely To Affect Child’s Development or IQ