Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment up to eight years of age-Results from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study

Eur J Nutr. 2021 Mar;60(2):791-805. doi: 10.1007/s00394-020-02280-7. Epub 2020 May 26.


Purpose: Current knowledge of the effect of prenatal caffeine exposure on the child's neurodevelopment is contradictory. The current study aimed to study whether caffeine intake during pregnancy was associated with impaired child neurodevelopment up to 8 years of age.

Method: A total of 64,189 full term pregnancies from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study were included. A validated food-frequency questionnaire administered at gestational week 22 was used to obtain information on maternal caffeine intake from different sources. To assess child neurodevelopment (behaviour, temperament, motor development, language difficulties) validated scales were used to identify difficulties within each domain at 6, 18, 36 months as well as 5 and 8 years of age. Adjusted logistic regression models and mixed linear models were used to evaluate neurodevelopmental problems associated with maternal caffeine intake.

Results: Prenatal caffeine exposure was not associated with a persistently increased risk for behaviour, temperament, motor or language problems in children born at full-term. Results were consistent throughout all follow-ups and for different sources of caffeine intake. There was a minor trend towards an association between consumption of caffeinated soft drinks and high activity level, but this association was not driven by caffeine.

Conclusion: Low to moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy was not associated with any persistent adverse effects concerning the child's neurodevelopment up to 8 years of age. However, a few previous studies indicate an association between high caffeine consumption and negative neurodevelopment outcomes.

Keywords: Child neurodevelopment; Maternal caffeine intake; MoBa; The Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study.

MeSH terms

  • Caffeine* / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Caffeine