Understanding the Impact of Caffeine on Maternal Health

A smiling pregnant person reclines on a sofa, holding a white mug and a computer tablet.

Pregnant people are recommended to limit their caffeine consumption to less than 200 milligrams (mg) per day—about two cups of coffee—because of potential risks to the fetus. However, the impacts of consuming caffeine during pregnancy on maternal health remain unclear.

Researchers led by Cuilin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., in the Epidemiology Branch, sought to determine whether caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with cardiometabolic complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and gestational hypertension. Their analysis included data from more than 2,500 participants in the NICHD Fetal Growth Studies.

Compared to no caffeine consumption, low-to-moderate intake of caffeinated beverages within current recommendations early in the second trimester was linked to a lower risk of gestational diabetes, lower glucose levels at diabetes screening, and a more favorable cardiometabolic profile. The investigators did not observe links between caffeine consumption and gestational hypertension or preeclampsia.

The findings may be reassuring for pregnant people who consume caffeinated beverages within current recommendations, the researchers note.

Learn more about the Epidemiology Branch: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/about/org/dir/dph/officebranch/eb

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