Caffeine consumption during pregnancy and fetal growth

Am J Public Health. 1991 Apr;81(4):458-61. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.4.458.


Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the association between maternal caffeine consumption and low birthweight, intrauterine growth retardation, and prematurity, adjusting for multiple confounders.

Methods: Data obtained from birth certificates and interviews on 1,230 women with singleton live births were analyzed to evaluate the potential influence of caffeine consumption during the first trimester on fetal growth.

Results: The crude odds ratio for intrauterine growth retardation in infants of women reporting heavy caffeine consumption (greater than 300 mg/day) was 3.86 (95% CI = 1.80, 8.40) which decreased to 2.90 (95% CI = 1.23, 6.87) after controlling for confounding factors. The adjusted odds ratio for low birthweight and heavy maternal caffeine consumption was also elevated (OR = 2.05; 95% CI = 0.86, 4.88). Women who reduced their caffeine intake from greater than 300 mg/day to less than that early in pregnancy had lower risks of delivering infants with either intrauterine growth retardation or low birthweight than women who continued to consume that amount. Preterm delivery appeared to be unrelated to caffeine consumption.

Conclusions: Taken together with studies reporting similar findings, these results suggest that heavy caffeine consumption increases the risk for fetal growth retardation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight / drug effects
  • Caffeine / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / chemically induced
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Caffeine