A recent study reports that when
women consume caffeine during pregnancy, their children need not carry any
increased risk for behavioral problems later in life.
Coffee has been getting a lot of
attention recently. Some studies say that it promotes heart health, while
others say it reduces a person's risk for diabetes. The recent study is one
more feather to coffee's cap.
In a study conducted on more than
3,400 mothers, the researchers could
find no evidence to suggest that maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy
contributed to their children's behavioral problems.
Study author Eva Loomans, from
Tilburg University, Netherlands, points out that children of mothers who drank
around three cups of coffee a day, did not harbor greater risk of suffering
from behavior related problems, compared to those children whose mothers did
not drink coffee.
However, she added that this
didn't mean that caffeine might not be harmful as they did not consider any
other developmental issues in children, besides problematic behavior, while
conducting this study. For the time being, Loomans suggests that all pregnant
women follow the advice given by their doctors.
According to the NHS, pregnant women must avoid having more than
200mg of caffeine per day, in other words, they must restrict themselves to
12oz cup of coffee.
So far, there is very little
evidence to suggest if a mother's caffeine intake could actually affect her
child's development. However, animal research has suggested that caffeine can
impair fetal brain development in a manner that is capable of altering their
behavior later on life.
recent study was conducted to understand the effect of coffee on the off
springs of women who consumed coffee during pregnancy. 3,439 mothers were made
to fill detailed questionnaires regarding lifestyle and other factors related
to their pregnancy. A follow-up was conducted when the children were the five
or six years old, during which time both mothers and teachers were surveyed
about the children's behavioral and emotional health.
appeared to be no connection between maternal caffeine intake and the risk for
hyperactivity/inattention problems, emotional symptoms, conduct problems, peer
relationship problems, overall problem behavior, or suboptimal prosocial
behavior in the children of mothers studied. However, children of mothers who consumed lots of caffeine and smoked
during pregnancy did exhibit behavioral problems.
warned that there is still a lot left to be elucidated about caffeine and its
effect on long-term development in children. It would be better for pregnant
women to avoid caffeine, as studies linking caffeine intake during pregnancy
with 40% greater risk of miscarriage than in women who abstained from caffeine.
Caffeine is a neuro-stimulant
that can pass from mother to fetus through the placental blood. During
pregnancy, the metabolism of caffeine slows down and hence it tends to hang
around for longer periods in the nervous system of the fetus. Caffeine also
reduces blood flow to the fetus, through the placenta, and lowers fetal heart
rate; this is capable of having a detrimental effect on the development of the
Scientist De-Kun Li, who authored
the study connecting caffeine to miscarriage says, "it is premature to make any conclusion based on the finding from this
[new] study, certainly not about the safety of caffeine consumption in
pregnancy, even in the context of children's behavior."