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Moderate caffeine intake in pregnancy does not affect the infant’s IQ or risk of obesity

Posted:  Monday, November 23, 2015

Pregnant women may breathe a sigh of relief. Researchers have gathered sufficient evidence that suggests moderate amounts of caffeine consumption during pregnancy is not adversely associated with the offspring’s intelligence quotient or the risk of developing obesity.

The first of its kind, the study examined the in utero caffeine exposure and child cognition (IQ) or behavior. The investigation involved examination of blood level of paraxanthine, the main metabolite of caffeine, in 2,197 expectant mothers. The levels were assessed at 2 points during pregnancy and correlated to the IQ level of the children at 4 and 7 years of age. The findings of the study were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Surprisingly, no association was found between caffeine intake and the child’s IQ. Since the study was conducted between 1959 and 1974, when caffeine consumption was high during pregnancy, the researchers had a plus point of evaluating over a wider range of caffeine intakes than they would in the present day pregnant women.

Further, the researchers found that the child’s risk of obesity was not associated with high caffeine intake during pregnancy. On a parting note, study coauthor Sarah Keim, PhD, said, “Taken as a whole, we consider our results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine or the equivalent to one or two cups of coffee per day.”

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