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Coffee & Health

Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and childhood growth and overweight: results from a large Norwegian prospective observational cohort study

E Papadopoulou et al, 2018.
BMJ Open, published online.
April 24, 2018



To study the association between maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and the child’s weight gain and overweight risk up to 8 years.


Prospective nationwide pregnancy cohort.

Setting The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.


A total of 50 943 mothers recruited from 2002 to 2008 and their children, after singleton pregnancies, with information about average caffeine intake assessed at mid-pregnancy.

Outcome measure:

Child’s body size information at 11 age points from 6 weeks to 8 years. We defined excess growth in infancy as a WHO weight gain z-score of >0.67 from birth to age 1 year, and overweight according to the International Obesity Task Force. We used a growth model to assess individual growth trajectories.


Compared with pregnant women with low caffeine intake (<50 mg/day, 46%), women with average (50–199 mg/day, 44%), high (≥200–299 mg/day, 7%) and very high (≥300 mg/day, 3%) caffeine intakes had an increased risk of their child experiencing excess growth in infancy, after adjustment for confounders (OR=1.15, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.22, OR=1.30, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.45, OR=1.66, 95% CI 1.42 to 1.93, respectively). In utero exposure to any caffeine was associated with higher risk of overweight at age 3 years and 5 years, while the association persisted at 8 years, only for very high exposures. Any caffeine intake was associated with increased body mass index from infancy to childhood. Children prenatally exposed to caffeine intake >200 mg/day had consistently higher weight. Very high caffeine exposures were associated with higher weight gain velocity from infancy to age 8 years.


Any caffeine consumption during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of excess infant growth and of childhood overweight, mainly at preschool ages. Maternal caffeine intake may modify the overall weight growth trajectory of the child from birth to 8 years. This study adds supporting evidence for the current advice to reduce caffeine intake during pregnancy.

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