Caffeine consumption during pregnancy affects child height: study

Caffeine consumption during pregnancy affects child height: study

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Starting the day with a hot cup of caffeinated coffee or tea may sound divine to some, but it could have a negative effect on pregnant babies, new research has found.

It was found that children who were exposed to small amounts of caffeine before birth were on average shorter than children of people who did not consume caffeine during pregnancy, according to study published Monday in JAMA Network Open.

Children whose parents consumed caffeine in the womb were found to be shorter at age 4 than those whose parents did not—and the difference widened each year until age 8, according to lead author Jessica Gleason, MD, a perinatologist. epidemiologist.

“To be clear, these are not huge differences in height, but there are these small differences in height among the children of people who consumed caffeine during pregnancy,” said Gleason, who is a researcher at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health. and human development.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists currently recommends limiting caffeine consumption to less than 200 milligrams per day during pregnancy.

For context, a cup of caffeinated tea typically contains about 75 milligrams of caffeine, a cup of instant coffee has about 100 milligrams, and a cup of filtered coffee has about 140 milligrams, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Even chocolate has about 31 milligrams of caffeine.

But the differences found in the latest study were found even in children whose parents drank less than half a cup of coffee a day while pregnant — well below current guidelines, Gleason said.

It’s not clear whether this study effectively shows causation between maternal caffeine consumption and child height, according to Dr. Gavin Pereira, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Curtin University in Australia. Pereira was not involved in the study.

“The correlation observed in this study may be explained by the existence of a common cause of caffeine consumption and growth restriction, eg poverty, stress and dietary factors,” Pereira said in a statement to the Science Media Centre.

Even small amounts of caffeine can affect a fetus in the womb, according to a study.

If short stature in early childhood were to persist into adulthood, there would be a chance that these children would face the risk of poor cardiometabolic outcomes, such as heart disease and diabetes, that are associated with short stature.

But there’s still no way to know whether the difference will persist into adulthood, and studies like this one that focus on population outcomes are no reason for individual families to panic, Gleason said.

These population-level trends should instead be taken alongside other research to help organizations reevaluate their recommendations, Gleason said.

In the past, there have been inconsistent studies on whether caffeine consumption during pregnancy affects the fetus, but evidence has accumulated in recent years, Gleason said.

A 2015 meta-analysis who reviewed all existing research found that there was an association between caffeine consumption and smaller birth size. AND study from 2020 found that there is no safe level of caffeine for the developing fetus.

Even without the panic that Gleason warned against, some people might want to cut back on caffeine—and then find that’s easier said than done.

Remember, caffeine is found in coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks and beverages, as well as cocoa and chocolate. It is also present in fortified snacks, some energy bars, and even some pain relievers. (For a more comprehensive list of caffeine content from different sources, see the chart from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.)

A 2016 Johns Hopkins University study found that it was helpful for individuals to identify the situations or moods in which they were most likely to crave caffeine so that they could avoid situations that provoked cravings, especially during the first few weeks of modifying caffeine use. Caffeine drinkers might also have a plan for when the urge strikes, such as taking a five-minute relaxation break that includes deep breathing exercises.

Remember to always discuss any major lifestyle or dietary changes with your doctor first, as the changes may affect your mood or medical conditions.

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