Five cups of coffee per day more than doubles a pregnant woman's risk of a miscarriage, according to perhaps the most rigorous study yet to focus on the possible link between caffeine and miscarriage.
Many nutrition experts and doctors have long suspected a connection and advise pregnant women to avoid caffeine. Unlike most past research, the latest study looked at women in early pregnancy, when most miscarriages happen. It also tried to account for a separate risk from genetic defects in fetuses and a possible risk from smoking.
The study involved 562 women who had miscarriages at between six to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The research team in Sweden and the United States found that the equivalent of one-to-three cups of North American coffee increases the risk of miscarriage by 30 percent. Three-to-five cups per day raises the risk by 40 percent. Five cups or more yields more than double the risk.
A cup of Swedish coffee typically carries about 180 milligrams of caffeine, compared to the 100 milligrams in a typical American cup of coffee. Tea, cocoa and sodas in equal volumes normally contain much less caffeine than coffee. But the study suggests a similar effect on miscarriage for these drinks and in caffeine-carrying medications, if enough is consumed.
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