Pregnant women who drink eight or more cups of coffee a day may triple their risk for having a stillborn child, scientists from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark say.
They found that the risk of stillbirth increased with the number of cups of coffee per day during pregnancy. Compared with women who did not drink coffee, women who drank 4-7 cups per day had an 80% increased risk of stillbirth, and women who drank eight or more cups had three times the risk.
Studies on pregnant women's caffeine consumption have had conflicting results, with some finding that caffeine does hurt the fetus and others finding no effect. Moderate consumption of caffeine--such as one or two caffeine containing beverages a day--is generally considered safe.
The research team evaluated coffee consumption during pregnancy, stillbirth and infant death among more than 18,000 pregnant women living in Denmark. Women who drink a lot of coffee are also likely to be smokers and to have a high alcohol intake. However, adjusting for these factors changed the association between coffee and stillbirth only slightly the researchers noted.
But after accounting for smoking habits, the researchers found no association between a woman's coffee consumption during pregnancy and infant death. Past studies have linked caffeine exposure in pregnancy to an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight.
Based on our knowledge today it seems reasonable at least to reduce coffee intake during pregnancy to less than four cups per day, say the researchers.
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