Assessing caffeine exposure in pregnant women

Br J Nutr. 2008 Oct;100(4):875-82. doi: 10.1017/S0007114508939842. Epub 2008 Mar 11.


Studies on the effects of caffeine on health, while numerous, have produced inconsistent results. One of the most uncertain and controversial effects is on pregnancy outcome. Studies have produced conflicting results due to a number of methodological variations. The major challenge is the accurate assessment of caffeine intake. The aim of the present study was to explore different methods of assessing caffeine exposure in pregnant women. Twenty-four healthy pregnant women from the UK city of Leeds completed both a detailed questionnaire, the caffeine assessment tool (CAT) designed specifically to assess caffeine intake and a prospective 3 d food and drink diary. The women also provided nine saliva samples over two consecutive days for estimation of caffeine and a metabolite (paraxanthine). Caffeine intakes from the CAT and diary showed adequate agreement (intra-class correlation coefficient of 0.5). For saliva caffeine and paraxanthine measures, the between-sample variation (within the same woman) was greater than between-woman and between-day variation. However, there was still adequate agreement between these measures and the CAT. The CAT is a valuable tool that is now being used in a large prospective study investigating caffeine's role in pregnancy outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Caffeine*
  • Diet Records
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy Trimesters
  • Prospective Studies
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Theophylline / analysis*


  • Biomarkers
  • Caffeine
  • Theophylline
  • 1,7-dimethylxanthine