Pregnant women, perk up! It's okay to indulge in your morning cup of coffee without worrying about it affecting your child's IQ, a new study finds.
In the study, researchers found that children born to women who consumed caffeine while pregnant did not have lower IQs or more behavior problems than those born to women who didn't indulge in coffee.
There was no evidence that caffeine consumption during pregnancy has a negative effect on children's cognition or behavior at ages 4 or 7, researchers wrote in their study, published yesterday (Nov. 19) in the American Journal of Epidemiology. [5 Experts Answer: Is Caffeine Bad for Kids?]
"Taken as a whole, we consider our results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine, or the equivalent to one or two cups of coffee per day," Sarah Keim, an assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and co-author of the study, said in a statement.
In the study, the researchers analyzed the amount of a compound called paraxanthine in blood samples from 2,197 pregnant women at two points during their pregnancies. (When you consume caffeine, the body breaks it down into several compounds, including paraxanthine.) The samples were collected as a part of the Collaborative Perinatal Project, a 25-year study that explored the links between pregnancy and perinatal factors and children's health. The researchers compared the paraxanthine levels with the children's IQ and behavior when they were 4 and 7 years old.
The samples were collected between 1959 and 1974, a period when drinking coffee during pregnancy was more common, the researchers noted in their study. This provided the researchers with a wider range of caffeine-intake levels than if the research had been conducted today, the investigators wrote in their study.
This is not the first study to suggest that drinking coffee in moderation may be safe during pregnancy.
In a 2012 study, researchers found that there was no link between moms' caffeine habits and whether babies woke up at night.
In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated that it considers moderate caffeine consumption — defined as less than 200 milligrams per day, the amount in about one or two cups of coffee — to be safe during pregnancy. The group notes, however, that the effects of large amounts of caffeine during pregnancy are still unclear.