Will too much coffee increase miscarriage risk?

Pregnant women, or those trying to become pregnant, often want to know exactly what they should and should not do to guarantee a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Many happily avoid raw fish, cleaning cat boxes, and eating lunch meats to decrease risks of certain pregnancy complications.

However, coffee is usually one beverage many pregnant moms are reluctant to give up for 40 weeks. And should they have to?

We’ve already covered what’s considered safe when it comes to caffeine consumption. Basically, keeping your caffeine intake to 200mg or less has not been shown to be associated with any problems such as miscarriage or IQ problems in your baby. So no, you shouldn’t have to go cold turkey on your favorite lattes.

A new study, however, has again made caffeine consumption in pregnancy a hot topic this week, which may be why your local barista might have started asking you again, “Are you sure you don’t want decaf?”

In short, yes, you really can drink that cup of coffee. This study looked at about 500 couples and studied factors that might be linked to increased rates of miscarriage. When it came to caffeine, drinking more than two cups of coffee a day while trying to conceive and in the first 7 weeks of pregnancy was shown to increase a woman’s miscarriage risk.

Dad was not off the hook, either. The same went for if he drank more than 2 cups of coffee a day. This is interesting since most studies tend to only focus on the woman’s habits, often ignoring the fact that it takes two people to make a baby!

So should you believe this study and let it change your morning beverage choices? Maybe, maybe not. Keep in mind this was not a huge study — only 500 couples. And it didn’t truly show a link (where they specifically gave women more caffeine and compared them to an identical group who didn’t get that caffeine — a study we’ll never see since these kinds of studies in pregnancy are considered unethical), but rather an “association.”

The best response should probably be somewhere in the middle: caffeine is OK, as long as you keep it under 200mg a day (which we’ve already been saying and is not new). Keep in mind that caffeine just isn’t in coffee, but in tea, chocolate, and soda, too. Let your partner know that his habits matter too, and while asking him to stick to the same caffeine rules may help your baby in the end, it’s also a nice way of showing that his health habits overall contribute to a healthy baby, too.

On that note, go drink a nice cup of (less than 200 mg of caffeine-containing) joe!

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Medical Director, Pregnancy

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.


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