Intake of caffeine and other methylxanthines during pregnancy and risk for adverse effects in pregnant women and their foetuses

image of Intake of caffeine and other methylxanthines during pregnancy and risk for adverse effects in pregnant women and their foetuses

The first part of the report deals with occurrence of methylxanthines in foods, beverages, and medicines, and estimates of caffeine intake. In addition, a short review of the pharmacological and toxicological actions of caffeine is given. The second and main part of the report reviews available information from epidemiological studies on the potential health hazards to the human foetus associated with parental intake during pregnancy of caffeine and related methylxanthines in foods, beverages and medicines. The studied adverse effects are influence on fertility, spontaneous abortion, congenital malformation, pre-term delivery, foetal growth retardation, foetal behaviour and effects on neonates, infants and young children. The conclusion of the report demonstrates the need for limiting caffeine exposure during pregnancy. The Nordic Working Group on Food Toxicology and Risk Evaluation (NNT) recognizes that the human exposure to caffeine and related compounds causes a spectrum of pharmacological effects, for instance cardiovascular, renal, neurological and behavioural effects. The increasing use of caffeine and related methylxanthines in various foods and beverages consumed by children and adolescents cause concern. NNT recommends that a full hazard characterization of caffeine and related methylxanthines should be performed with the aim to reach a conclusion about the upper safe level of intake of these compounds.



Summary of the results in epidemiological studies on the relationship between caffeine intake, or intake of caffeine-containing beverages and foods, and adverse effects on the pregnancy or the foetus

It is highly unlikely that a consumer in the Nordic countries is not exposed to caffeine and other methylxanthines through either the diet, medicinal products and/or skin care products. These compounds occur naturally in a number of beverages such as cocoa, coffee, guarana, maté, tea, yaupon, and yoco as well as in cola nuts and food products containing cocoa and chocolate (mainly candy and bakery products). Caffeine is also added to foods, typically to various types of drinks, notably cola drinks, energy drinks, smart drinks, and certain other soft drinks. In medicinal products, caffeine is often a part of analgesic, antipyretic, antihistaminic, and central stimulating products, as well as an ingredient of drugs used for migraine and fatigue. Caffeine also occurs in tonics and vitamin B supplements. A minor part of the exposure may come from dermal application of skin care products.


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