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Is Caffeine Linked to Maternal Health Risks?

The recommendations are based on studies that suggest potential associations with pregnancy loss and fetal growth at higher caffeine levels. However, there are limited data on the link between caffeine and maternal health outcomes.

“While we were not able to study the association of consumption above the recommended limit, we now know that low-to-moderate caffeine is not associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or hypertension for expecting mothers,” said the study’s lead author Stefanie Hinkle, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Epidemiology at Penn.


To understand this association, researchers studied prospective data from 2,529 pregnant participants who were enrolled in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Fetal Growth Studies-Singleton Cohort at 12 U.S. clinical centers between 2009 and 2013.

Women reported their weekly intake of caffeinated coffee, caffeinated tea, soda, and energy drinks at enrollment and at each office visit thereafter.

Concentrations of caffeine were also measured in the participants’ plasma at 10 to 13 weeks into their pregnancies. The researchers then matched their caffeine consumption with primary outcomes: clinical diagnoses of gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia.

They found that caffeinated beverage intake at 10 to 13 weeks gestation was not related to gestational diabetes risk. During the second trimester, drinking up to 100 mg of caffeine per day was associated with a 47 percent reduction in diabetes risk.

There were no statistically significant differences in blood pressure, preeclampsia, or hypertension between those who did and did not drink caffeine during pregnancy. The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

These findings were consistent with studies that have found that caffeine has been associated with improved energy balance and decreased fat mass.

They also cannot rule out that these findings are due to other constituents of coffee and tea such as phytochemicals, which may impact inflammation and insulin resistance, leading to a lower risk for gestational diabetes.

However, past studies from the same group have shown that caffeine consumption during pregnancy, even in amounts less than the recommended 200 mg per day, was associated with smaller neonatal anthropometric measurements.

Hence, it is not advisable for women who are non-drinkers to initiate caffeinated beverage consumption to lower gestational diabetes risk.

At the same time, these findings may provide some reassurance to women who already are consuming low to moderate levels of caffeine that such consumption likely will not increase their maternal health risks.

Source: Medindia

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