Maternal Caffeine Consumption during Pregnancy and Behavioral Disorders in 11-Year-Old Offspring: A Danish National Birth Cohort Study

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Abstract

Objective

To examine the association between maternal caffeine consumption from coffee and tea during pregnancy and offspring behavioral disorders.

Study design

We studied 47 491 children enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort between 1996 and 2002. Data on maternal coffee and tea consumption was collected at 15 and 30 weeks of gestation. When the child was 11 years old, the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire was filled in by children, parents, and teachers. We estimated risk ratios (RRs) for offspring behavioral disorders.

Results

At 15 weeks of gestation 3% and 4% of the pregnant women consumed ≥8 cups/d of coffee or tea, respectively. Maternal coffee consumption ≥8 cups/d at 15 weeks of gestation was associated with increased risk of hyperactivity-inattention disorder (RR 1.47; 95% CI 1.18–1.83), conduct-oppositional disorders (RR 1.22; 95% CI 1.01–1.48), and any psychiatric disorder (RR 1.23; 95% CI 1.08–1.40). Maternal tea consumption ≥8 cups/d at 15 weeks of gestation was associated with increased risk of anxiety-depressive disorders (RR 1.28; 95% CI 1.09–1.52) and any psychiatric disorder (RR 1.24; 95% CI 1.11–1.40). An increased risk of hyperactivity-inattention disorder was observed with increasing daily caffeine consumption at 15 weeks of gestation.

Conclusion

High maternal caffeine consumption from coffee and tea at 15 weeks of gestation was associated with behavioral disorders in 11-year-old offspring. We hypothesize that caffeine exposure may affect the fetal brain and program for behavioral disorders later in life. The fetal brain seems to be more sensitive to caffeine exposure at 15 weeks of pregnancy compared with 30 weeks of gestation.

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