Too much caffeine intake by a pregnant mother can impair the health of her child. A study in the “Journal of Endocrinology” shows that caffeine can affect a baby’s liver. Also, it can enhance the risk of liver diseases in adulthood.
In this study, the research team gave caffeine to pregnant rats. Later, they found that these rats have given birth to babies with low birth weights. Moreover, these babies were having impaired levels of stress and growth hormones, and impaired development of the liver.
Caffeine consumption during pregnancy can affect liver development in the babies
The foods having caffeine may include coffee, caffeinated products, and tea. Some dietary supplements and chocolates also contain caffeine. Green tea may contain little or no caffeine.
The results of the study have shown that an intake of caffeine equal to 2 – 3 cups of coffee can change the levels of the stress and growth hormones. The altered levels of these hormones can impair growth, further increasing the risk of liver diseases.
In the past, many studies have suggested that an intake of about 300 mg or more caffeine per day have a link with low birth weight in the babies. This amount of caffeine accounts for about 2 – 3 cups of coffee daily.
Further studies have also shown how the intake of caffeine by a pregnant mother can affect a child’s health. It tells that the prenatal consumption of caffeine has damaging effects on the baby’s liver.
It can also increase the risk of NAFLD – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD is a liver condition normally linked with diabetes and obesity.
Still, scientists haven’t found the exact link between caffeine intake during pregnancy and altered liver development. By knowing how caffeine leads to these damaging effects, scientists can find a way to prevent these health issues in the future.
Effects of high and low doses of caffeine on hormonal levels of the offspring
The research team has further studied the effects of different doses of caffeine during pregnancy. The team checked how high and low doses of caffeine can affect hormone levels and the liver function in the offspring.
The pregnant rats receiving low levels of caffeine gave birth to babies with higher levels of corticosteroids and stress hormone. While, the levels of liver growth hormone, also known as IGF-1, were lower at the time of birth.
Still, the development of liver after birth has shown a catch-up phase for compensation, indicated by an increase in levels of IGF-1. IGF-1, a hormone, mainly plays a role in the growth of a child, but it can also function in decreasing the blood sugar levels.
Also read- Can You Take Caffeine During Pregnancy?
The results of the study show that prenatal intake of caffeine impairs the levels of hormones in a way, that it inhibits the development of liver before birth. But the catch-up phase occurs after birth to increase growth and fix the normal function of the liver.
The increase in the risk of NAFLD is more likely to link with the compensatory increase in IGF-1 after birth. These results have confirmed that caffeine intake in a pregnant mother can affect her child’s health.
The study has increased the present knowledge of hormonal changes responsible for these problems. Still, there is a need to confirm these animal findings in humans. This study adds support and provides guidelines to avoid or limit the intake of caffeine in pregnancy.