[Effects of coffee and caffeine on fertility, reproduction, lactation, and development. Review of human and animal data]

J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 1994;23(3):241-56.
[Article in French]


In the present review, we have examined the effects of coffee ingestion on fertility, reproduction, lactation and development. The potential effects of coffee consumption on fertility, spontaneous abortion and prematurity are not clearly established but appear to be quite limited. In rodents, caffeine can induce malformations but this effect appears in general at doses never encountered in humans. Indeed, as soon as the quantity of caffeine is divided over the day, as is the case for human consumption, the teratogenic effect of caffeine disappears in rodents. Coffee ingested during gestation induces a dose-dependent decrease in birth weight, but usually only when ingested amounts are high (i.e. more than 7 cups/day), whereas coffee has no effect at moderate doses. Caffeine consumption during gestation affects hematologic parameters of the new-born infant or rat. In animals, caffeine induces long-term consequences on sleep, locomotion, learning abilities, emotivity and anxiety, whereas, in children, the effects of early exposure to coffee and caffeine on behavior are not clearly established. The quantities of caffeine found in maternal milk vary with authors, but it appears clearly that caffeine does not change maternal milk composition and has a tendency to stimule milk production. In conclusion to this review, it appears that maternal coffee or caffeine consumption during gestation and/or lactation does not seem to have measurable consequences on the fetus of the newborn, as long as ingested quantities remain moderate. Therefore, pregnant mothers should be advised to limit their coffee and caffeine intake to 300 mg caffeine/day (i.e. 2-3 cups of coffee or 2.5-3 l of coke) especially because of the increase of caffeine half-life during the third trimester of pregnancy and in the neonate.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caffeine / adverse effects*
  • Caffeine / metabolism
  • Caffeine / pharmacokinetics
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Coffee / adverse effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation / drug effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology
  • Rats
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Xanthines / adverse effects
  • Xanthines / metabolism


  • Coffee
  • Xanthines
  • methylxanthine
  • Caffeine