Updated 16 October 2013

Coffee tied to miscarriage

A new American study has confirmed that consuming high doses of caffeine during pregnancy increases a woman's risk of miscarriage.

High doses of daily caffeine during pregnancy – whether from coffee, tea, caffeinated soda or hot chocolate – may cause an increased risk of miscarriage, according to a new study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

While previous research showed a link between caffeine consumption and miscarriage, this is the first study to thoroughly control for morning sickness, which typically causes many women to avoid caffeine, explained Dr De-Kun Li, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and lead investigator of the study.

“This study strengthens the association between caffeine and miscarriage risk because it removes speculation that the association was due to reduced caffeine intake by healthy pregnant women,” Li said.

To address that concern, the study, which looked at 1 063 pregnant women in San Francisco from October 1996 to October 1998, examined the caffeine effect among women who never changed their pattern of caffeine consumption during their pregnancy.

Miscarriage risk doubled
Women who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine per day (two or more cups of regular coffee or five cans of caffeinated soda) had twice the miscarriage risk as women who consumed no caffeine, said Li. Women who consumed less than 200 mg of caffeine daily had more than 40 percent increased risk of miscarriage.

The increased risk of miscarriage appeared to be due to the caffeine itself, rather than other possible chemicals in coffee because caffeine intake from non-coffee sources such as caffeinated soda, tea and hot chocolate showed a similar increased risk of miscarriage.

“The main message for pregnant women from these findings is that they probably should consider stopping caffeine consumption during pregnancy because this research provides clearer and stronger evidence that high doses of caffeine intake during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage,” said Li.

How caffeine may harm the foetus
Caffeine crosses through the placenta to the foetus, but can be difficult for the foetus to metabolise because of the under-developed metabolic system. Caffeine also may influence cell development and decrease placental blood flow, which may lead to an adverse effect on foetal development.

So what’s a fatigued mom-to-be supposed to do for her daily energy jolt?

“If you definitely need caffeine to get you going, try keeping it to one cup or less a day. Avoiding it may be even better. Consider switching to decaffeinated coffee and other decaffeinated beverages during your pregnancy," said Dr Tracy Flanagan, Director of Women's Health at Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “Learn to perk up instead with natural energy boosts like a brisk walk, yoga stretches, or snacking on dried fruits and nuts.”

The research appears in the current online issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. - (EurekAlert)

Read more:
Pregnancy Centre

January 2008


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.