A low amount of caffeine consumption during pregnancy could help reduce gestational diabetes risk

Good news for coffee drinkers: a low intake of caffeine during pregnancy could help lower the risk of gestational diabetes according to researchers from the Perelman school of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as well as the National Institutes of Health. The findings were published on Monday in JAMA Network Open.

Although we were unable to examine the connection between consumption beyond the recommended limit, we know that low-to-moderate caffeine is not associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or hypertension among pregnant mothers.”

Stefanie Hinkle PhD, lead author ,assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Penn

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that pregnant women limit their intake of caffeine to less than 200 mg (about two, six-ounce cups) per day. The recommendations are based upon studies that suggest potential associations with the loss of pregnancy and fetal growth with higher levels of caffeine. However, there remains limited information on the connection between caffeine and maternal health outcomes.

Researchers studied prospective data from 2,529 people in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Fetal Growth Studies-Singleton Cohort at 12 U.S. clinics between 2009 through 2013. This helped them to better know the relationship between these two.

At enrollment and at each office visit following women were asked to report their weekly consumption of caffeinated coffee caffeinated tea, caffeinated energy drinks, and soda. The participants’ plasma levels of caffeine were also measured at 10 to 13 weeks following their births. Researchers then compared participants their intake of caffeine with primary outcomes, like the clinical diagnosis of gestational high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.

The team of researchers found that caffeinated beverage intake at 10 to 13 weeks gestation was not linked to gestational diabetes risk. A 47 percent reduction in the risk of developing diabetes was observed in the second trimester, when 100mg of caffeine a day could be consumed. There were no statistically significant variations in blood pressure, preeclampsia, or hypertension among those who did and didn’t drink caffeine during pregnancy.

Researchers have noted that these findings are in line with previous studies that have found caffeine to be linked with an increase in energy balance and reduced fat mass. These findings could also be due to other components of coffee or tea like phytochemicals, which can affect insulin resistance and inflammation which could reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

However, studies conducted by the same group have revealed that consumption of caffeine during pregnancy even when it was less than the recommended 200 mg daily, was associated with smaller infant anthropometric measurements, as per to Hinkle.

“It would not be advised for women who do not drink to initiate caffeinated beverage consumption in the hopes of reducing risk of gestational diabetes,” she said. “But, our findings may provide some comfort to women who already consume moderate to low quantities of caffeine that such consumption will not increase their maternal risk.”

Journal reference:

Hinkle, S.N., et al. (2021) Assessment of Caffeine Consumption and Maternal Cardiometabolic Pregnancy Complications. JAMA Network Open.

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Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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