Document Type

Student Research Paper


Fall 2016

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Hagan


Past studies have determined that pregnant women’s consumption of caffeine can be a cause for intrauterine growth restriction as well as other fetal complications. More recently, experiments are revealing that prenatal caffeine exposure can alter the biochemistry in the developing brain of the fetus. Specifically, caffeine has effects on the brain by antagonizing adenosine receptors, inhibiting phosphodiesterase, and releasing calcium stores. However, caffeine’s effects can most likely be contributed to its ability to antagonize adenosine receptors. Caffeine has the potential to slow GABA neuron migration in the developing hippocampus of the fetal brain. One study discussed in this report suggests that caffeine does this by blocking adenosine receptor 2A. While scientists are still conducting research to determine if caffeine’s antagonism of AR2A slows cell migration and causes deficits in memory and cognition, there already is a negative correlation between prenatal caffeine exposure and performance on tests based on memory and cognition. Another study discussed in this report tests these abilities in rats, and a third study tests IQ scores for children prenatally exposed to caffeine 5.5 years after birth. The findings overall suggest that a woman should avoid consuming caffeine while pregnant in order to protect the growth and development of the fetus.


FYS100 The Science of Addiction. Awarded an honorable mention for the 2017 Anna Carper Awards.