A new study suggests that pregnant women may indulge in their morning cup of coffee without having to worry about it altering their child’s intelligence quotient (IQ).
In the study – published November 19 in the American Journal of Epidemiology – the researchers found that the women who consumed caffeine while pregnant did not give birth to children with more behaviour problems or lower IQs, compared with children born to women who did not drink coffee.
Sarah Keim, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of paediatrics and epidemiology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, said that the results are reassuring for women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine per day – one or two cups of coffee.
For the study, the researchers took blood samples from almost 2,200 pregnant women twice during their pregnancies, and they looked at the levels of paraxanthine – a compound that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) – in the samples. After you consume caffeine, the human body typically breaks it down into various compounds like paraxanthine, theobromine, and theophylline.
The current study is part of the bigger Collaborative Perinatal Project – a study conducted over 25 years that analyzes the links between children’s health and pregnancy.
The paraxanthine levels were compared with the behaviours and IQs of the children between the ages 4 and 7, according to the researchers. They noted that the children’s behaviour or cognition when they were 4 and 7 years old was not affected by their mothers consuming caffeine while pregnant.
Researchers collected the samples from 1959 to 1974, when it was more common for pregnant women to drink coffee.
A previous study also found that moderate amounts of caffeine intake while pregnant may not be dangerous. For instance, one 2012 study found that mothers’ caffeine habits during pregnancy were not linked to whether the infants woke up at night more than usual.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, moderate caffeine intake that could be considered safe during pregnancy is less than 200 milligrams per day – which is the equivalent of about one to two cups of coffee.
It is still unclear what type of effects large amounts of caffeine would have during pregnancy, the researchers said.
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