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Does Drinking Coffee During Pregnancy Cause Miscarriages?

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Updated January 21, 2008

Question: Does Drinking Coffee During Pregnancy Cause Miscarriages?
Answer:

Right now, researchers aren't exactly sure whether drinking coffee during pregnancy might be linked to miscarriages.

In recent years, a number of research studies have looked at the link between coffee intake and miscarriage. A few studies have found that high intake of coffee was statistically correlated with pregnancy loss, but other studies have found no link.

Some researchers doubt the coffee/miscarriage link; instead, they blame morning sickness for the association. Other studies have found that having morning sickness is correlated with a lower risk of miscarriage (probably because pregnancies destined to miscarry produce lower hormone levels and fewer body changes). These researchers theorize that women who are destined to miscarry are more likely to drink coffee during pregnancy (because it doesn't make them nauseous), whereas women who will not miscarry are more likely to have morning sickness and be repulsed by coffee.

Does that make sense?

Of course, the link between coffee and miscarriage may not be so simple as being due to morning sickness. One 2003 study examined coffee intake alongside nausea and found the two factors to be independent of one another. And it is too early to say whether or not the finding will lead to anything, but one 2006 study by Swedish researchers found a genetic variant that might be associated with miscarriage risk from coffee intake -- which the researchers theorized might account for differences in study findings.

In conclusion, high caffeine intake during pregnancy may or may not cause pregnancy loss. Researchers believe that drinking coffee in moderation is probably safe -- and some studies do find this to be true.

The common recommendation is to limit caffeine consumption to under 300 mg per day, which is about two cups of brewed coffee. So, to be on the safe side, you could switch to decaffeinated coffee, but it's probably fine to go ahead and have that morning cup of coffee if you want it -- just don't drink the entire pot!

Sources:

Giannelli, Massimo, Pat Doyle, Eve Roman, Margo Pelerin, and Carol Hermon, "The effect of caffeine consumption and nausea on the risk of miscarriage." Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2003. Accessed 14 Jan 2008.

Karypidis, A., T. Söderström, A. Nordmark, F. Granath, S. Cnattingius, and A. Rane, "Association of cytochrome P450 1B1 polymorphism with first-trimester miscarriage.." Fertility and Sterility 2006. Accessed 14 Jan 2008.

Maconochi, N., P. Doyle, S. Prior, and R. Simmons, " Risk factors for first trimester miscarriage—results from a UK-population-based case–control study." BJOG 2007. Accessed 14 Jan 2008.

Savitz, David A., Ronna L. Chan, Amy H. Herring, Penelope P. Howards, and Katherine E. Hartmann, "Caffeine and Miscarriage Risk." Epidemiology 2008. Accessed 14 Jan 2008.

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