Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity. Studies in adults suggest that caffeine intake might also directly affect visceral and liver fat deposition, which are strong risk factors for cardio-metabolic disease.
To assess the associations of maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy with childhood general, abdominal, and liver fat mass at 10 years of age.
In a population-based cohort from early pregnancy onwards among 4770 mothers and children, we assessed maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and childhood fat mass at age 10 years.
Compared with children whose mothers consumed <2 units of caffeine per day during pregnancy, those whose mothers consumed 4-5.9 and ≥6 units of caffeine per day had a higher body mass index, total body fat mass index, android/gynoid fat mass ratio, and abdominal subcutaneous and visceral fat mass indices. Children whose mothers consumed 4-5.9 units of caffeine per day had a higher liver fat fraction. The associations with abdominal visceral fat and liver fat persisted after taking childhood total body fat mass into account.
High maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy was associated with higher childhood body mass index, total body fat, abdominal visceral fat, and liver fat. The associations with childhood abdominal visceral fat and liver fat fraction were independent of childhood total body fat. This suggests differential fat accumulation in these depots, which may increase susceptibility to cardio-metabolic disease in later life.