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Coffee & Health

Caffeine intake during pregnancy and risk of childhood obesity: a systematic review

N C Frayer & Y Kim, 2020.
Journal of Maternal and Child Health and AIDS, Volume 9 (3).
October 20, 2020



This paper evaluates the association between caffeine consumption during pregnancy and overweight or obesity in the offspring.


Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, a literature search was conducted using MedLine, PubMed, CINAHL-Plus and Google Scholar databases. Inclusion criteria were cohort studies on participants with live singleton births at ≥28 weeks gestation who had consumed caffeine during pregnancy. Included were studies reporting both measurement of maternal caffeine intake and offspring anthropometric measurements. Studies reporting serum paraxanthine, a measurement of caffeine intake, were also included.


After final elimination, there were eight studies meeting our inclusion criteria. From these studies, we deduced that caffeine intake during pregnancy between 50 mg and <150 mg/day was associated with increased risk of overweight and obesity by excess fat deposition or increased weight, and elevated BMI per International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) criteria using a reference population. The majority of studies reported the strongest association with maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and overweight and obesity risk beginning at ≥300 mg/day.

Conclusions and global health implication:

The risk of childhood overweight or obesity was associated with caffeine consumption at 50 mg/day during pregnancy with a stronger association at intakes ≥300 mg/day and higher. The current recommendation of <200 mg/day of caffeine during pregnancy is likely associated with lower risk of overweight or obesity in offspring but avoidance of the substance is recommended.

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