“I would advise pregnant women to consume as little caffeine as possible and switch to completely decaffeinated if they can,” Foxy said.
But he urged women not to go to cold turkey if they could help it, because caffeine withdrawal can cause a range of symptoms, including headache, irritability, nausea, and difficulty concentrating.
“We don’t know what effect withdrawal, irritability, stress and anxiety will have on pregnancy,” Foxy said. “Try to cut down on caffeine before pregnancy.”
The study does have some limitations. The women were asked to remember how much caffeine they consumed during pregnancy, and the memory is not always 100% accurate.
The results were recently published online in the journal Neuropharmacology.
Dr. Mark Klebanov, principal investigator at the Perinatal Research Center in Columbus, Ohio, said that several studies have looked at the effects of caffeine on pregnancy outcomes, such as the risk of miscarriage. But little is known about how caffeine affects children as they get older.
“The new study adds to the literature, but it is not sufficient to supply caffeine in any strong way,” said Klebanov, who was not involved in the study but reviewed the results.
“Pregnant women can be reasonably reassured that consuming less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day will not cause miscarriage or premature labor,” he said. Klebanov added that more study is needed on how it affects child development.
He said, “A normal cup at home contains about 100 mg of caffeine, so a woman can limit it to two cups a day during pregnancy.”
But they should bear in mind that other sources of caffeine (such as energy drinks, energy bars and chocolate) should be considered a part of the total, Klebanov said.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides advice on coffee and Caffeine during pregnancy.
Sources: John Fox, Ph.D., Director, Del Monte Institute of Neuroscience, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York; Mark Klebanov, MD, Principal Investigator, Perinatal Research Center, Abigail Wexner Research Institute, Children’s National Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; NeuropharmacologyJanuary. 30, 2021, online