Mixed News on Caffeine and Pregnancy

“Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. He’s especially concerned about caffeine. Take a look:
Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.1 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible.
In fact, back in January a study confirmed the link between caffeine and miscarriage. Here’s some of the AFP report:
US researchers said Monday they have conclusive proof to show that women who drink a lot of caffeine on a daily basis in the early months of pregnancy have an elevated risk of miscarriage, settling a longstanding debate over the issue.

To be absolutely safe, expectant mothers should avoid caffeinated beverages of any kind during the first five months of pregnancy, the researchers said in a paper published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Again, “It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun,” Dr. Fuhrman insists. But, the research continues to be mixed. Nancy Tones of TheNestBaby.com offers up two conflicting caffeine-pregnancy studies. Check them out:
In the last few months, two studies about the relationship between caffeine and miscarriages have come out. Which should you believe? We've ground it all down to size and asked the experts for some answers:

Study one Cool it on the caffeine
Gulping down 200 milligrams or more of caffeine per day (two or more cups of coffee or five 12-ounce cans of soda) doubled the risk of miscarriage (compared with women who cut out caffeine) in a study of over 1,000 women by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

Study two Some caffeine is safe
When women drank less than two cups of coffee a day, their babies fared just fine, according to a study of 2,407 women in the journal Epidemiology. Though higher caffeine intake wasn't studied, moderate amounts didn't seem to be associated with miscarriages.
And this report by Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times casts more confusion over the link between caffeine and pregnancy dangers. Here’s an excerpt:
One of the more unnerving studies was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. It looked at more than 1,000 pregnant Swedish women and found that those who drank the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent increased risk of miscarriage, while those who had the equivalent of at least five cups had more than double the risk.

But a majority of studies have suggested that any risk might apply only to high levels of caffeine intake. One study carried out by the National Institutes of Health in 1999 looked closely at the blood levels of caffeine in tens of thousands of pregnant women and found that those who consumed the equivalent of more than five cups of coffee a day did have an increased risk, while those who drank one or two cups did not. Other studies have had similar findings.
Clearly, there’s some doubt here. So in the end, maybe its just best to take Dr. Fuhrman’s advice, “The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.” I think we can all agree with that.
1. Bracken MB, Triche EW, Belanger K, et. Al. Association of maternal caffeine consumption with decrements in fetal growth. Am J Epidemiol 2003; 157(5): 456-466. Vik T, Bakketeig LS, Trygg KU, et al. High caffeine consumption in the third trimester of pregnancy: gender-specific effects on fetal growth. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 2003; 17(4):324-331. Rasch V. Cigarette, alcohol, and caffeine consumption: risk factors for spontaneous abortion. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2003;82(2): 182-188.
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Llouise - March 14, 2008 11:26 AM

I agree with "when in doubt," 100%.

What I don't like about these studies is that the use the term "caffeine," too generally within the text, and yet are only referring to studies of *coffee.* So is caffeine from green tea the same? Are any of these tests done including green or white tea drinkers?
Coffee beans are also high in acrylamides -- is that factoring into results?

These tests are never enough! I think sometimes, that's why people tend to disregard them: they show one thing one day, another the next. I wish they were more thorough and inclusive.

Gerry Pugliese - March 14, 2008 11:55 AM

Hey Llouise-

I agree. I get really annoyed when I see all those green tea "health" drinks. GRRR!


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