Study Says Caffeine consumption during pregnancy results in somewhat shorter children


Caffeine exposure in the womb, even at levels lower than currently accepted US recommendations, may result in shorter juvenile height, according to a large new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network.

According to the study, children of women who consumed low amounts of caffeine during pregnancy were slightly shorter than children of mothers who drank no caffeine, with height differences especially noticeable between the ages of 4 and 8.

The study grew out of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) Fetal Growth Studies, a long-term observational project funded by the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

The findings follow a study conducted by the same research group last year, which discovered that moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy may result in a reduced birth size and weight.

In this follow-up study, the researchers discovered no apparent trends linking maternal caffeine consumption to differences in child weight, BMI, or obesity risk, albeit height was a striking exception in two distinct observational studies.

One of the previous research found that children of women who consumed the most caffeine were 1.5 centimetres shorter than children of women who consumed the least. Another study of over 1,600 mother-child pairs discovered that the difference between the greatest and lowest intake groups was 0.68 millimetres at age 4, increasing to 2.2 centimetres at age 8.

“Our findings demonstrate that even little caffeine use during pregnancy can have long-term impacts on infant growth,” NICHD study author Dr. Katherine Grantz stated in a press release. “Most importantly, the height disparities we discovered are minor — less than an inch — and more research is needed to understand whether these changes have any impact on child health.” Caffeine usage should be discussed with pregnant women’s healthcare practitioners.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine consumption to fewer than 200 mg per day, which translates to around two 6-ounce cups of filter coffee.

The committee notes in that guideline, “The connection of caffeine to growth limitation remains unknown.”

Caffeine use and pregnancy have also just received some positive news, with a large study revealing no link between consumption and miscarriage, stillbirth, or early birth.

Meanwhile, the USDA’s dietary guidelines for pregnancy and coffee intake remain grossly inadequate.