Pregnant Moms and Coffee Increases Risk of Overweight Kids

Researchers found a link between childhood weight gain and caffeine

"Pregnant women are advised to cut off caffeine completely", said Dr Gul Rana, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai.

New European research has found that a moderate to high intake of caffeine during pregnancy could be linked to excess weight gain in children.

The experts from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, who studied data from more than 50,000 Norwegian women said that their work supports advice to reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy. In their 22nd week of pregnancy, the moms self-reported whether they drank caffeine - from coffee, black tea, chocolate drinks, soft drinks or energy drinks - and the researchers tracked the growth patterns of their babies from six weeks to 8 years old.

But the observational study did not provide a clear cause and effect.

Children exposed to very high levels of caffeine before birth also weighed 67-83 g more at 3-12 months, 110-136 g more as toddlers, 213-320 g more at 3-5 years, and 480 g more at the age of 8, than children who had been exposed to low levels.

And prenatal exposure to any level of caffeine was associated with a child's greater risk of being overweight at ages 3 and 5 years.

A 2008 study conducted by Kaiser Permanente also found that women who consumed more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day were more than twice as likely to have a miscarriage than non-caffeine consumers. This risk increased for children born to mothers reporting high caffeine intake (OR = 1.3; 95% CI, 1.16-1.45) and very high caffeine intake (OR = 1.66; 95% CI, 1.42-1.93). "These factors may have had stronger influence on early childhood obesity than dietary caffeine intake itself".

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"This study adds supporting evidence for the current advice to reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy". Paternal median caffeine intake was 193 mg per day, with caffeine from coffee cited as the main contributor, according to researchers.

"The evidence provided in the study for a causal effect is extremely weak and the statement from the authors that "complete avoidance might actually be advisable" seems unjustified, particularly when we consider the effects that such a restriction might have on wellbeing of mothers".

A daily intake of 0-49 mg was considered to be a low level of caffeine, with 50-199 mg considered average, 200-299 mg high, and more than 300mg very high. Just under half of the mothers were classified as consuming a low level of caffeine, 44 per cent consumed an average level, seven per cent a high level and three per cent a very high level.

Researchers noted that "maternal caffeine intake may modify the overall weight growth trajectory of the child from birth to 8 years".

"It's likely that caffeine is not good for you, especially in high doses", he said. The results are published in the journal BMJ Open.

During pregnancy, elimination of caffeine is prolonged, rapidly passing all biological membranes, including the blood-brain and placenta barriers, exposing the foetus.

Other studies have confirmed problems with caffeine intake during pregnancy, including a 2015 study by Kaiser Foundation Research Institute that found exposure to caffeine in the womb was associated with an 87 percent increased risk of childhood obesity.

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