Have Another Coffee, Mom

Caffeine habits of moms appear to have little effect on sleeping patterns of infants

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you really need that cup of joe, it's okay, Mom. Whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding, your coffee habit won’t come back to haunt you with increased nighttime baby wakings.

Babies whose mothers drink about the amount of caffeine in a Starbucks grande (16 fl. oz.) coffee drink do not appear to be affected by their moms' caffeine consumption, according to a recent study.

"Ask your doctor about safe levels of caffeine consumption during pregnancy."

Lead researcher Ina Santos, MD, a postgraduate in epidemiology at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, and colleagues wanted to find out whether caffeine consumed by a mother during pregnancy and while breastfeeding might affect three-month-old babies' sleeping patterns.

The researchers surveyed 4,231 mothers of babies born in 2004 in Pelotas, Brazil, and then followed up with a subset of the newborns.

The researchers interviewed the mothers immediately after they gave birth and three months later to find out how much caffeine they drank. The researchers also gathered information on mother's socioeconomic status and various behaviors.

Then the researchers investigated the sleep and wake patterns of 885 of the mother's babies during the previous 15 days. They defined a "night waking" as an episode that woke up the parents during the night.

They found that approximately 20 percent of the women drank more than 300mg per day of caffeine while they were pregnant, and about 14 percent drank at least this much three months postpartum.

About two to four cups of brewed coffee contains approximately 300mg of coffee, according to information from the Mayo Clinic.

Only one woman from the study did not consume caffeine. Those who did consume caffeine did so by drinking coffee or mate, a hot beverage similar to tea and popular in Brazil.

Approximately 14 percent of the infants woke up their parents more than three times a night at age three months.

Although those waking up the most frequently were the breastfed babies of mothers who drank more than 300mg of caffeine during their pregnancy and during the next three months, the higher incidence in this group was not significant enough for the researchers to determine that it was related to caffeine consumption.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that "caffeine consumption during pregnancy and by nursing mothers seems not to have consequences on sleep of infants at the age of three months."

The study was published online April 2 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the World Health Organization, the National Support Program for Centers of Excellence, the Brazilian National Research Council, the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Children's Mission.

The 2004 birth cohort study is supported by the Wellcome Trust Initiative. The authors declared no financial conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 4, 2012
Last Updated:
April 5, 2012