Drinking coffee while pregnant could make your child obese
Drinking coffee while pregnant could make your child obese
Guidelines advise pregnant women to limit caffeine consumption to no more than 200mg a day. Stock Image PA
25 April, 2018, 08:15
"In utero exposure to caffeine has been related to an increased risk for overweight and higher body fat in childhood in two previous epidemiological studies", Eleni Papadopoulou, of the division of infection control and environmental health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, Norway, and colleagues wrote.
Sources of caffeine included coffee, black tea, fizzy drinks, chocolate, chocolate milk, sandwich spreads, desserts, cakes and candies.
At 22 weeks of pregnancy, the mums-to-be were asked to quantify their food and drink intake from among 255 items, including caffeine, using a specially adapted Food Frequency Questionnaire. 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).
The authors compared data from the dietary surveys to information on child body measurements taken at 11 different stages throughout childhood until they were aged eight. Consistently higher weight was seen in children prenatally exposed to caffeine intake 200 mg/day.
This persisted for eight year olds whose mothers had a very high caffeine consumption in pregnancy - more than three cups.
Children exposed to very high levels of caffeine before birth weighed 67-83g more in infancy, 110-136g more as toddlers; 213-320g more as pre-schoolers and 480g more at the age of eight than children who had been exposed to low levels, experts found.
Although this study can not prove that caffeine itself causes kids to gain excess weight, it begs the question whether women should avoid caffeine altogether during pregnancy, Papadopoulou pointed out.
"Maternal caffeine intake may modify the overall weight growth trajectory of the child from birth to eight years".
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The findings, which back general advice to limit caffeine intake while pregnant, prompt the researchers to query whether mums-to-be should cut out the world's most widely consumed central nervous system stimulant altogether.
It is important that pregnant women be aware that caffeine does not come from coffee only, but also from sodas and energy drinks, which can contribute a lot of caffeine to daily consumption, she said.
As an observational study, the researchers can not confirm causality, however, they did point out that the sample size was large, and the findings do support the existing advice to limit caffeine intake while pregnant.
"The results add supporting evidence for the current advice to reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy and indicate that complete avoidance might actually be advisable", the study authors concluded.
Under half (46 per cent) of the pregnant women were considered to have low caffeine consumption - less than 50mg a day. In this study, the mothers with high caffeine intake were most likely to be heavy smokers, economically disadvantaged, have poor diet and be overweight.
There's new evidence that even moderate amounts of caffeine consumed by a mom-to-be might affect her child's weight years later. The results are published in the journal BMJ Open.
Dr Papadopoulou said earlier studies had linked caffeine to childhood obesity but this was by far the biggest and most thorough of its kind.
"It's likely that caffeine is not good for you, especially in high doses", he said.
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