Caffeine intake during pregnancy is overall not associated with neonatal health

  • Modzelewska D & al.
  • BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
  • 26 Feb 2019

  • curated by Elisabeth Aron, MD, MPH, FACOG
  • Clinical Essentials
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  • Caffeine intake during pregnancy was associated with risk for small for gestational age (SGA), which in turn was linked to neonatal complications.
  •  Overall caffeine intake was not associated with effects on neonatal health, even with adjustment for SGA.

Why this matters

  • Women during pregnancy often seek advice on caffeine, which crosses the placenta.

Key results

  • Median caffeine intake was 58 mg; 75% consumed
  • Total caffeine intake was not associated with (aORs): 
    • neonatal morbidity, mortality: 1.01 (P=.88); or
    • neonatal intervention: 1.02 (P=.07). 
    • Adjustment for SGA did not change these associations.
  • Caffeine exposure was associated with SGA (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.10-1.23), but the authors suggest various underlying causes for the SGA.
  • Infants with SGA had increased risk for (ORs; 95% CIs):
    • neonatal morbidity, mortality: 3.09 (2.54-3.78); and 
    • neonatal intervention: 3.94 (3.50-4.45).

Study design

  • Cohort from MoBa, a Norwegian prospective population pregnancy cohort.
  • Caffeine intake assessed through self-reported dietary habits by food frequency questionnaire at 22 weeks of gestation.
  • Neonatal outcomes assessed using composite variables: neonatal morbidity or mortality and neonatal intervention.
  • Information on neonatal birth weight and gestational age were abstracted from records.
  • SGA defined as
  • Funding: Erasmus + EU grant.


  • Self-reporting bias possible.
  • Most women consumed low levels of caffeine during pregnancy.

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