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Caffeine shakes up growing mouse brains

When pregnant rodents consumed the stimulant, offspring had altered neurons, faulty memory

2:39pm, August 7, 2013

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Pregnant mice buzzed on caffeine gave birth to pups with brain changes and lasting memory deficits, a new study shows. The results, published August 7 in Science Translational Medicine, leave unclear whether caffeine causes a similar effect in people.

The study convincingly shows that caffeine changes the brains of exposed pups, says child neurologist Barry Kosofsky of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. But he cautions that mouse and human brains develop very differently, so direct comparisons are impossible. The study has no immediate message for pregnant women, Kosofsky says. “We are totally at a loss about what to say for caffeine.”

For a mouse mother, though, the experiment’s story is clearer: Moderate caffeine intake during pregnancy changes baby brains, and not for the better. While pregnant and later lactating, mice drank water laced with caffeine in an amount

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