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Mothers' caffeine intake not linked to behavioural problems

Consuming caffeinated beverages during pregnancy is not linked to a higher risk for behaviour problems in children, according to a study led by Eva M. Loomans of Tilburg University, published in the journal Pediatrics.

There have been few studies in humans that have investigated the association between caffeine intake during pregnancy and any effect it might have on children’s behaviour, and the results have been inconclusive.

The team of Dutch of Belgian researchers investigated the association between maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and children’s problem behaviour at age 5 to 6 years in a sample population of 3.400 child-mother pairs of various ethnicities. Modulation of the effects by gestational age at exposure, the child’s gender, and maternal smoking were tested.

Overall, about five percent of the children had some kind of behavioural problem, such as hyperactivity or inattention. But the risk was no greater for kids whose moms consumed large daily doses of caffeine.

The researchers concluded that caffeine intake was not associated with a higher risk for behaviour problems.

No evidence was found for modification of caffeine’s effects by fetal growth restriction, gestational age, or the child’s gender. Furthermore, they state that their results give no reason to advise pregnant women to reduce their caffeine intake to prevent behaviour problems in their children.

You can read the abstract of their report, "Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy and Risk of Problem Behaviour in 5- to 6-Year-Old Children," and gain (paid) access to the full paper here.

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