The study comes from researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH, and is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
"Women drinking and eating moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy should be reassured that they are not harming their child’s intelligence, according to a study from The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital that was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The research, one of the first studies to focus on how in utero caffeine exposure affects a child’s future intelligence (IQ) and behavior later in childhood, found caffeine did not lead to a reduced IQ or increased behavioral problems.
“We did not find evidence of an adverse association of maternal pregnancy caffeine consumption with child cognition or behavior at 4 or 7 years of age,” said Mark A. Klebanoff, MD, principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s and faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine."
The women were all part of the Collaborative Perinatal Project, which was conducted at multiple locations in the US between 1959-74 - a time when the researchers say coffee consumption during pregnancy was higher than today, given that there was little concern regarding caffeine safety.
Because the study took place during a time of higher maternal caffeine intake, the researchers say they were able to assess a broader range of caffeine intakes than they would in pregnant women today.
"We did not find evidence of an adverse association of maternal pregnancy caffeine consumption with child cognition or behavior at 4 or 7 years of age," says Dr. Klebanoff, who adds that their study is one of the first to focus on how exposure to caffeine in utero affects a child's IQ and behavior.
"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."
"To get an idea of what 200 mg of caffeine looks like, one 8 oz cup of coffee contains about 95 mg, while one cup of black tea contains nearly 50 mg. Green tea, meanwhile, contains between 24-45 mg."
Caffeine intake through chocolate, however, can surprisingly add up; in 100 g of dark chocolate, there is approximately 45 mg of caffeine.