Skip to main content

Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy and Weight of Offspring in Childhood: A Systematic Review

10 August 2019


Background: Childhood obesity currently affects one third of the United States’ youth. Meeting criteria for overweight and obesity in childhood not only increases the risk of being overweight or obese in adulthood, but also increases the risk of comorbidities of obesity including: type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, and slipped capital femoral epiphysis. Several factors have been implicated to have a causal relationship or association with excessive weight gain; however, new studies are suggesting that a significant influence on the weight of the child is present in-utero. The current review explores the relationship between caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the weight of offspring in childhood. The purpose of this review is to organize and critically appraise the current data in order to realign our standard of care with the most recent information. Preventing childhood obesity is our best line of defense for our children and the health of our nation.

Method: A comprehensive search of MEDLINE-PubMed, Web of Science, CINAHL-EBSCO, and MEDLINE-Ovid was conducted using the following key words: maternal, pregnant women, caffeine, and childhood obesity. The search produced five articles of which four were relevant to the topic and met all eligibility criteria. The four applicable articles were then reviewed using GRADE criteria.

Results: Three of the 4 eligible studies suggest that there is an association between higher levels of caffeine intake in pregnancy and increased weight in childhood compared to lower levels of maternal caffeine intake. One study even suggests complete avoidance of caffeine may be advisable after findings reveal increased BMI from infancy to childhood were associated with any amount of caffeine intake during pregnancy. In contrast, a study by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital did not support the theory that increasing maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity.

Conclusion: The use of caffeine during pregnancy may be linked to childhood obesity. Providers should consider giving stricter recommendations than the current ACOG guidelines of < 200mg/day and may even educate pregnant mothers to eliminate caffeine altogether.

Keywords: Maternal, pregnant women, caffeine, childhood obesity


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
Main File
20 Mar 2020
541 kB