Caffeine consumption during pregnancy can affect brain pathways in utero

Although it may not cause psychiatric conditions, the consumption of caffeine during pregnancy may influence brain pathways when in utero that could lead to behavioral problems at a later age, a new study has found.

Conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center, a research team published in the journal Neuropharmacology the results demonstrating these changes in brain structure amid exposure to caffeine.

“These are sort of small effects and it’s not causing horrendous psychiatric conditions, but it is causing minimal but noticeable behavioral issues that should make us consider long term effects of caffeine intake during pregnancy,” according to John Foxe, a researcher of the study, as stated in a news release.

“I suppose the outcome of this study will be a recommendation that any caffeine during pregnancy is probably not such a good idea.”

Researchers analyzed more than 9,100 children from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. All of the participants who between 9 and 10 years of age.

Among all the participants, brain scans were taken to identify any brain changes from exposure to caffeine in utero.

The results indicated the caffeine consumption during pregnancy led to changes in how the white matter tracks were organized.

“These findings suggest that gestational caffeine exposure (GCE) can lead to future neurodevelopmental complications and that this occurs, in part, through alteration of the microstructure of critical fiber tracts such as the IFOF-LH and CST-LH,” the study’s co-authors wrote in their research report.

“These data suggest that current guidelines regarding limiting caffeine intake during pregnancy may require some recalibration.”

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