Consumption of caffeine during pregnancy presents in a newborns hair

By Anni Lehtonen1 · Lauri Uusitalo2,3 · Seppo Auriola4 · Katri Backman2,5 · Seppo Heinonen6 · Leea Keski‑Nisula2,3 ·

Markku Pasanen7 · Juha Pekkanen8,9 · Tomi‑Pekka Tuomainen1 · Raimo Voutilainen2,5 · Sari Hantunen1 ·Marko Lehtonen4


Purpose High-maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy may be harmful for perinatal outcomes and future child health, but the level of fetal cumulative exposure has been difficult to measure thus far. Here, we present maternal dietary caffeine intake during the last trimester and its correlation to caffeine content in newborn hair after birth. Methods Maternal third trimester diets and dietary caffeine intake were prospectively collected in Kuopio Birth Cohort (KuBiCo) using a 160-item food frequency questionnaire (n = 2840). Newborn hair was collected within 48 h after birth and analyzed by high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) for caffeine (n = 316). Correlation between dietary caffeine intake and neonatal hair caffeine content was evaluated from 203 mother–child pairs. Results Mean dietary caffeine intake was 167 mg/days (95% CI 162–172 mg/days), of which coffee comprised 81%. Caffeine in the maternal diet and caffeine content in newborn hair correlated significantly (r = 0.50; p < 0.001). Older, multiparous, overweight women, and smokers had the highest caffeine levels in the maternal diet, as well as in their newborn babies’ hair. Conclusion Caffeine exposure, estimated from newborn hair samples, reflects maternal third trimester dietary caffeine intake and introduces a new method to assess fetal cumulative caffeine exposure. Further studies to evaluate the effects of caffeine exposure on both perinatal and postnatal outcomes are warranted, since over 40% of pregnant women consume caffeine more than the current suggested recommendations (European Food Safety Association, EFSA recommendations).

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