A new study has shown that while a cup of hot caffeinated tea or coffee may sound delicious to some, it can have adverse effects on the health of children who are pregnant.
According to a study published Monday in JAMA Open, children who had been exposed to low amounts of caffeine before giving birth were on average shorter than those who didn’t consume it while pregnant.
According to Dr. Jessica Gleason (perinatal epidemiologist), children of mothers who ingested caffeine in the womb had shorter statures at age 4. The gap widened every year until age 8.
Gleason is a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development research fellow.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to 200 mg per day.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a mug of caffeinated tea usually contains 75 mg of caffeine. A mug of instant coffee typically contains about 100 mg. A mug of filtered coffee contains about 140 mg. Even chocolate contains about 31 mg of caffeine.
Gleason stated that the latest study found significant differences even among children of parents who consumed less than half a cup per day of coffee while pregnant. This is well below current guidelines.
According to Dr. Gavin Pereira (a Curtin University professor of epidemiology biostatistics in Australia), it’s unclear if this study shows causation between maternal coffee consumption and child height. Pereira was not part of the study.
Pereira stated that the correlation found in the study could be explained by the existence of a common cause for both caffeine consumption as well as growth restriction, e.g. poverty, stress, and dietary factors in a statement Science Media Centre.
Why is it important to be concerned about smaller stature?
If children with shorter statures in childhood continue to be smaller into adulthood, they could have poor outcomes in cardiometabolic health, including heart disease and diabetes.
However, it is not possible to predict if this difference will persist into adulthood. Studies like these that focus on population outcomes do not mean individual families should panic, Gleason stated.
Gleason stated that these population-level trends should be combined with other research to help organizations reassess their recommendations.
Gleason stated that although there was some controversy in the past about whether caffeine consumption during pregnancy could have an impact on the fetus’ health, the evidence is now more consistent.
A 2015 meta-analysis of all existing research revealed a dose-response relationship between caffeine consumption and smaller birth sizes. A 2020 study found that there is no safe amount of caffeine for a developing fetus.
How to reduce your spending
Some people may want to reduce their caffeine intake, even if they don’t feel the need to panic as Gleason warned. However, once they do it, they will find it easier said than done.
Caffeine can be found in soft drinks, coffee, tea, energy drinks, shots, and energy drinks. It also appears in chocolate, cocoa, and even chocolate. You can also find it in some energy bars, fortified snacks, and some pain medication. (The Center for Science in the Public Interest has a chart that shows the caffeine content of different sources.
Johns Hopkins University found that people can identify situations and moods that are most likely to trigger caffeine cravings. This is especially true during the first few weeks after modifying their caffeine intake. A plan could be developed for caffeine drinkers to help them cope with cravings, such as a five-minute relaxation break that involves deep-breathing exercises and five minutes of deep breathing.
Discuss any major lifestyle changes or dietary changes first with your doctor, as these changes could affect your mood and medical condition.