A recent study has shown that women who consume coffee during pregnancy don’t actually negatively affect their baby’s IQ or behavioral patterns.
The findings are in stark contrast with prior research which had suggested that there might be a connection between the expectant mother’s coffee intake and the newborn’s level of intelligence.
This new scientific paper was published on Thursday, November 19, in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The study was conducted by a team of experts, led by Dr. Mark Klebanoff, pediatric expert at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Sarah Keim, assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.
An analysis was performed on medical records pertaining to 2,197 pregnant women, who had been surveyed as part of the Collaborative Perinatal Project over a period of 25 years (between 1959 and 1979).
The purpose of the initial research had been to identify potential links between the babies’ overall health, and perinatal factors (occurring in a period spanning from 5 months before until 1 month after birth).
When study authors reviewed this data, they focused on identifying connections between the expectant mother’s coffee consumption and the child’s intelligence quotient (IQ).
They were able to correctly assess coffee intake by determining the amounts of paraxanthine in the subjects’ blood samples, given that this compound is considered to be a metabolite of caffeine. In other words, the substance usually forms as coffee is digested by the body, so higher concentrations suggest elevated consumption of this beverage.
The amount of paraxanthine encountered for each pregnant woman was compared against the IQ and overall behavior corresponding to the subject’s child, at the age of 4 and 7.
The fact that at the time when the Collaborative Perinatal Project was conducted there weren’t such strict limitations on coffee during pregnancy allowed scientists to accurately identify any potential cause-and-effect relationship.
It was discovered that in fact moderate coffee intake among expectant mothers had no statistically significant effect on the baby’s intelligence. Moreover, there were no behavioral issues reported among children whose mothers had indulged in this daily habit during their pregnancy.
Therefore, researchers state that as long as women limit themselves to just one or two 8-ounce cups of coffee per day, there should be no danger posed to their developing fetus.
These findings are actually supported by other recent studies as well, which had also hinted that caffeine intake isn’t as harmful as previously thought.
For example, research published in April 2012 showed that drinking large amounts of coffee during pregnancy or while nursing doesn’t disrupt the baby’s sleeping patterns, probably because mothers develop tolerance to high levels of caffeine.
However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that pregnant women should only limit themselves to drinking one of two cups of coffee per day (around 200 milligrams of caffeine).
Although it hasn’t been fully established what heavier consumption might eventually lead to, some have pointed out that caffeine can elevate blood pressure and heart rate, which is highly dangerous while pregnant, and that it might also heighten the risk of miscarriage.
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