Study Says High Caffeine Intake Increases Miscarriage Risk Print Write e-mail
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Pregnancy - Pregnancy 2008
Written by Frank Mangano   
Tuesday, 12 August 2008 22:36


When people tell me that they can’t go a day without their morning cup o’ joe, I understand that that need doesn’t go away when people’s situations change, like if someone becomes pregnant. But according to new research – as hard as it may be – you might want to find an alternative to the daily “grind,” if you are in with child.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente – a not-for-profit health care organization that services some 8 million people in selected regions around the country – interviewed approximately 1,100 women, a portion of whom had recently miscarried. In fact, the number of women that had miscarried in their sample – about 170 women – is representative of the average miscarriage rate among all pregnancies (approximately 16 percent).

The primary reason the women were interviewed was to get an idea of how much caffeine they consumed, on average, during the course of their pregnancy.

What they found was that among women who consumed little to no caffeine, their risk of a miscarriage was lower than the average miscarriage rate – around 4 percent lower. But among those women who consumed approximately 200 mg or more of caffeine per day – around the amount of caffeine found in your average 10 oz. cup of coffee – they increased their chances of miscarrying; their risk hovered around the 25 percent rate. That’s a one in four chance of miscarrying!

Now, as I’ve said in the past, correlation does not necessarily imply causation. In fact, when researchers have been confronted with similar results regarding caffeine and pregnancy, their reply has often been that the negative association of caffeine with pregnant women has more to do with whether or not a woman experiences morning sickness with pregnancy. They say that the hormonal changes that induce morning sickness positively affect the baby’s development, resulting in a healthier pregnancy. The tendency among women that experience morning sickness to not to consume caffeine, say past researchers, has been faultily pinpointed as the thing that reduces miscarriage risk. Au contraire, say the current crop of researchers, as morning sickness and caffeine intake was taken into consideration in this study. Still, caffeine was seen as a strong indicator of miscarriage risk.

This study puts me at something of a crossroads when it comes to caffeine intake. I’ve long been a proponent of caffeine intake, so long as it’s consumed in moderate amounts; at the same time, this study certainly indicates that caffeine should be virtually eliminated if one is pregnant.

When it comes down to it, if you’re pregnant, you’re best bet is to err on the side of caution – avoid it for nine months. If you really can’t live without it, though, use it very, very sparingly. The average cup of coffee is around 8 to 10 oz. Restrict yours to 5 oz. Even better, drink organic coffee. Organic coffee is not only better for you nutritionally, but it also has less caffeine than the average brew (200 mg per 10 oz. cup of coffee). And if you drink organically, then you can get away with a little bit more java for your dollar. But I still say, to ensure a greater chance at a successful delivery, steer clear of caffeine while pregnant.




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