How Even Small Amounts Of Caffeine While Pregnant Could Affect Fetal And Child Development

When you get pregnant, you're overwhelmed with advice everywhere you turn. Family members, friends, and even coworkers sometimes watch your every move and comment on whether you should be eating that or drinking this. In certain cases, like illegal drugs, alcohol, and smoking, there is no question if they should be consumed or used during pregnancy since it's been well established that these practices pose health risks to the baby (via babyMed).

However, in other instances like caffeine, the lines can get blurred. Currently, the recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is that pregnant people should consume less than 200 mg of caffeine a day (via Penn Medicine News). That includes coffee, tea, soft drinks, and even chocolate. Higher amounts are thought to be linked to pregnancy loss and fetal growth.

However, a new study may make you want to rethink your cup of morning joe.

What the study says about caffeine during pregnancy

According to a study in the journal "Pediatrics," consuming even a very small amount of caffeine while pregnant can result in having a shorter child. In the study, children ages 4-8 were observed. The mothers who abstained from all caffeine had children that were taller than mothers who enjoyed small amounts of caffeine throughout pregnancy. Some only consumed a half cup of coffee a day, which is roughly about 50 milligrams of caffeine, a much lower amount than deemed acceptable by the ACOG.

The height differences were small and there were no observable differences in body weight. Lead author of the study, Dr. Jessica Gleason, who is a perinatal epidemiologist explains, "To be clear, these are not huge differences in height, but there are these small differences in height among the children of people who consumed caffeine during pregnancy," (via CNN).

The study cannot determine whether the children will stay in a shorter stature as they grow and further studies are needed.