Postnatal administration of caffeine may reduce the risk of cerebral palsy (CP) in vulnerable low-birth-weight neonates. The effect of antenatal caffeine exposure remains unknown.
We investigated the association of intake of caffeine by pregnant women and risk of CP in their children.
The study was based on The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, comprising >100,000 live-born children, of whom 222 were subsequently diagnosed with CP. Mothers reported their caffeine consumption in questionnaires completed around pregnancy week 17 (102,986 mother-child pairs), week 22 (87,987 mother-child pairs), and week 30 (94,372 mother-child pairs). At week 17, participants were asked about present and prepregnancy consumption. We used Cox regression models to estimate associations between exposure [daily servings (1 serving = 125 mL) of caffeinated coffee, tea, and soft drinks and total caffeine consumption] and CP in children, with nonconsumers as the reference group. Models included adjustment for maternal age and education, medically assisted reproduction, and smoking, and for each source of caffeine, adjustments were made for the other sources.
Total daily caffeine intake before and during pregnancy was not associated with CP risk. High consumption (≥6 servings/d) of caffeinated soft drinks before pregnancy was associated with an increased CP risk (HR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.2, 3.1), and children of women consuming 3-5 daily servings of caffeinated soft drinks during pregnancy weeks 13-30 also had an increased CP risk (HR: 1.7; 95% CI: 1.1, 2.8). A mean daily consumption of 51-100 mg caffeine from soft drinks during the first half of pregnancy was associated with a 1.9-fold increased risk of CP in children (HR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.1, 3.6).
Maternal total daily caffeine consumption before and during pregnancy was not associated with CP risk in children. The observed increased risk with caffeinated soft drinks warrants further investigation.