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Caffeine and Miscarriages - Is There a Link?

By January 22, 2008

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Another study has come out in favor of a possible link between caffeine and miscarriages, according to CNN. Over the past decade or so, many researchers have speculated that high intake of caffeine might be related to miscarriages -- theorizing that caffeine crosses the placenta and causes pregnancy loss because the developing baby cannot metabolize it. Many of the caffeine/miscarriage studies have zeroed in on coffee in particular.

Some researchers have been skeptical of the results, speculating that the link might be because women who miscarry have less morning sickness and are probably more likely to drink more coffee. Some studies have corrected for nausea and still found a link, while other studies have done the same and had opposite results.

The newest study, which was published in Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that women who took in 200 mg or more of caffeine per day (1-2 cups of coffee) had twice the risk of miscarriage compared to women who consumed no caffeine -- and that the source of the caffeine was irrelevant. (Caffeine is also found in chocolate, tea, and several brands of diet soda.)

Of course, it's hard to know what to think. Just last week, a different study concluded that taking in 300 mg or less of caffeine per day did not increase women's risk of miscarriages. Reuters reported on that study, which was in the January issue of Epidemiology.

What to do with the findings? Well, if you tend to worry a lot about miscarriages, you may prefer to avoid caffeine entirely when pregnant. If caffeine does have a link with pregnancy loss, avoidance the surest way to eliminate any theoretical risk. However, completely avoiding caffeine may be unnecessary, as many doctors believe that caffeine in moderation is probably safe. A common recommendation is to limit caffeine intake in pregnancy to under 300 mg per day (less than 3 cups of coffee or tea per day).

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