Babies exposed to moderate to high levels of caffeine while in the womb are more likely to gain excess weight in early childhood, research shows.
A Norwegian study of 51,000 mothers and children concludes children exposed to more than 200 mg of caffeine per day – two coffees or four teas – are more likely to be overweight by the age of three.
The findings published in journal BMJ Open challenge current recommendations to only limit caffeine intake while pregnant.
While they can’t prove cause and effect, the researchers suggest pregnant women should cut out caffeine altogether.
“Maternal caffeine intake may modify the overall weight growth trajectory of the child from birth to eight years,” the authors write.
“The results add supporting evidence for the current advice to reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy and indicate that complete avoidance might actually be advisable.”
Caffeine passes rapidly through tissues, including the placenta, and takes the body longer to get rid of during pregnancy.
Previous research has linked caffeine intake to a heightened risk of miscarriage and restricted foetal growth.
According to the latest findings, exposure to any caffeine level while in the womb is associated with a heightened risk of the child being overweight at the ages of three and five years.
Only very high caffeine intake (300 + mg a day) is linked to excess weight gain at eight years.
On average, children exposed to very high levels of caffeine weighed 480 grams more than children who had been exposed to low levels, according to the study. – AAP
You can access the study here.