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Caffeine During Pregnancy, Breastfeeding not Linked to Sleep Problems for Baby

By Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 28, 2012

Caffeine During Pregnancy, Breastfeeding not Linked to Sleep Problems for BabyIf mom drinks a daily cup of coffee, it probably won’t have any effect on baby’s sleep, according to a new study.

The research, experts say, doesn’t give the ‘go-ahead’ to heavy caffeine consumption during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, the findings support the theory that moderate amounts of caffeine may be okay.

Over the years, smaller studies have had mixed results on whether caffeine during pregnancy is linked to increased risks of miscarriage or premature birth.

Larger, more recent studies also have failed to show any increased risk. And in 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) announced that 200 milligrams of caffeine a day (about equal to a 12-ounce cup of coffee) probably did not carry pregnancy risks.

Not much, however, was known about whether caffeine, during pregnancy or breastfeeding, might disturb an infant’s sleep.

For the study, Dr. Ina Santos and her colleagues at Federal University of Pelotas, in Brazil, interviewed 885 new moms, who reported their own caffeine consumption as well as their infants’ sleep habits at the age of three months.

All but one mom said they drank caffeinated beverages while pregnant. About 20 percent were heavy consumers–consuming at least 300 mg per day during pregnancy. And just over 14 percent had a heavy caffeine intake three months after giving birth.

Overall, the researchers found no clear link between moms’ caffeine consumption and infant sleeping problems. Nearly 14 percent of mothers said their three-month-old woke up more than three times each night—considered “frequent.”  But the baby wakeups were not statistically higher for moms who consumed large amounts of caffeine vs. lighter consumers, Santos’s team reports in the journal Pediatrics.

“I think this report adds to the growing body of literature suggesting that moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy is generally safe,” said Dr. William H. Barth Jr., chief of maternal-fetal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Barth, who was not involved in the study, chaired the ACOG committee that wrote the 2010 report.  He noted that up to a cup or two of coffee per day appears safe during pregnancy.

“However,” Barth said, “we do not know if there are adverse effects of higher levels of caffeine consumption.”

As for breastfeeding, it’s generally thought that 300 mg of caffeine or less each day is OK, according to Dr. Lauren Hanley, an obstetrician at Mass General who specializes in breastfeeding issues.

And studies suggest that much higher amounts of caffeine during breastfeeding—more than 300 mg per day, according to Hanley—are related to ‘jitteriness,’ fussiness and poor sleep in babies.

Source: Federal University of Pelotas

 

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2012). Caffeine During Pregnancy, Breastfeeding not Linked to Sleep Problems for Baby. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/04/28/caffeine-during-pregnancy-breastfeeding-not-linked-to-sleep-problems-for-baby/37907.html