Should You Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

In the United States, some 60 percent of women continue to drink caffeinated coffee during their first month of pregnancy.  About 16 percent of pregnant mothers consume 150 mg of caffeine or more per day.  (Epidemiology)

Here’s the question: Is this harmful to your unborn baby?

Three things to know.  One, caffeine can freely cross the placenta.  Two, 90 percent of a mother’s caffeine level reaches the developing fetus.  Three, the half-life of caffeine is much longer in the fetus than in the adult.  (American Physiological Society)

Some studies have shown a correlation between prenatal caffeine consumption and decreased birth weight.  But are there longer-term consequences?

Researchers in Florida studied mice that had were exposed to physiologically relevant doses of caffeine in utero.  They found that caffeine significantly altered the expression of genes in embryonic hearts.  Pathways related to cardiovascular development and diseases were significantly affected by caffeine.

The researchers stress that “the long-term effects of caffeine on human cardiac function are unclear.”  They recommend further studies “to evaluate the safety of caffeine exposure during human pregnancy.”

The study used Agilent RNA Pico assay reagents and an Agilent Bioanlayzer System to confirm RNA integrity and perform library validation.

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