In a case-control study of 2,030 malformed infants, six selected birth defects were evaluated in relation to maternal ingestion, during pregnancy, of caffeine from tea, coffee, and cola: 380 infants with inguinal hernia, 299 with cleft lip with or without cleft palate, 277 with cardiac defects, 194 with pyloric stenosis, 120 with isolated cleft palate, and 101 with neural tube fusion defects were compared with 712 other malformed infants who served as controls. None of the point estimates of relative risk was significantly greater than unity. For ingestion of any caffeine relative to no ingestion, the upper 95% confidence bounds were of the order of three or less; for consumption of the equivalent of four or more cups of coffee per day relative to less than two cups, the upper bounds were two or less. Potential confounding factors did not explain the findings. The results suggest that caffeine is not a major teratogen with regard to the six defects evaluated.
Rosenberg L, Mitchell AA, Shapiro S, Slone D. Selected Birth Defects in Relation to Caffeine-Containing Beverages. JAMA. 1982;247(10):1429–1432. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320350033024
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