Caffeine may double miscarriage risk

January 22, 2008 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Caffeine may double miscarriage risk
Pregnant women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day have twice the risk of having a miscarriage as those who avoid caffeine, say U.S. researchers.

In this study, 1,063 pregnant women were looked at to determine if their caffeine intake have any affect on their risk of miscarriage. During the two year study, the women never changed their caffeine consumption while pregnant.

Pregnant women who over 200 milligrams of caffeine each day - the equivalent of two or more cups of regular coffee -were twice as likely to miscarry as pregnant women who avoided caffeine. Caffeine from soda, tea and hot chocolate was also associated with increased risk of miscarriage.

An 8-ounce cup of black tea has 45 milligrams of caffeine. A 12-ounce can of coke has 34 milligrams while a cup of hot chocolate (8 oz.) has 14 milligrams of caffeine.

Women who are pregnant should avoid caffeine for at least the first three months, if not the whole pregnancy, say this study's authors.

It's thought that caffeine may cause stress to the fetus' immature metabolism. It may also decrease blood flow in the placenta, the organ which transfers nutrients from the mother to the fetus.

Previous research has sought to establish a link between caffeine intake during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage. This is the first study to find a significant association.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, up to 20 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and up to 75 percent of those miscarriages occur in the first three months of pregnancy.

What causes most miscarriages isn't fully understood. Other factors that may increase the risk of miscarriage include smoking, alcohol use, maternal age, and a history of previous miscarriages.

For more information on how nutrition affects pregnancy, check out Leslie Beck's Nutrition Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.

This study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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