Moderate Caffeine Intake May Reduce Gestational Diabetes Risk

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Pregnant coffee lovers can breathe a sigh of relief, as consuming a low amount of caffeine during pregnancy could help to reduce gestational diabetes risk, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open.

“While we were not able to study the association of consumption above the recommended limit, we now know that low-to-moderate caffeine is not associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or hypertension for expecting mothers,” said the study’s lead author Stefanie Hinkle, PhD, an assistant professor of Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

The current recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is that pregnant women limit their caffeine consumption to less than 200 mg (about two cups) per day. The recommendations are based on studies that suggest potential associations with pregnancy loss and foetal growth at higher caffeine levels. However, there remains limited data on the link between caffeine and maternal health outcomes.

To better understand this association, researchers studied prospective data from 2529 pregnant participants from 2009 to 2013.

At enrollment and at each visit thereafter, women reported their weekly intake of caffeinated coffee, caffeinated tea, fizzy drinks, and energy drinks. Concentrations of caffeine were also measured in the participants’ plasma at 10 to 13 weeks into their pregnancies. The researchers then matched their caffeine consumption with primary outcomes: clinical diagnoses of gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia.

The research team found that caffeine at 10 to 13 weeks gestation was not related to gestational diabetes risk. During the second trimester, drinking up to 100 mg of caffeine per day was associated with 47% less diabetes risk. No statistically significant differences in blood pressure, preeclampsia, or hypertension between those who did and did not consume caffeine during pregnancy.

The findings are in line with research that found an association between and improved energy balance and decreased fat mass, the researchers noted. However, other constituents of coffee and tea such as phytochemicals could be the cause.

The group’s previous work has however shown that caffeine consumption during pregnancy, even in amounts less than the recommended 200 mg per day, was associated with smaller neonatal anthropometric measurements, according to Prof Hinkle.

“It would not be advised for women who are non-drinkers to initiate caffeinated beverage consumption for the purpose of lowering gestational diabetes risk,” she said. One meta-analysis found that any amount of caffeine was a risk to the foetus. “But our findings may provide some reassurance to women who already are consuming low to moderate levels of caffeine that such consumption likely will not increase their maternal health risks.”

Source: Penn Medicine

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