Caffeine And Miscarriage

Caffeine Is The Culprit Afterall

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine while pregnant - including sources such as coffee, caffeinated soda or even hot chocolate - increased the risk of miscarriage. This study was the first of its kind to control symptoms of nausea, vomiting and an aversion to caffeine in order to determine the real effect of caffeine related to miscarriage risk. De-Kun Li, MD, PhD., an investigator with Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and lead investigator of the study said, "This study strengthens the association between caffeine and miscarriage risk because it removes speculation that the association was due to reduced caffeine intake by healthy pregnant women."

Just Two Cups Of Coffee Is Enough To Cause Problems

The study considered 1,063 pregnant Kaiser Permanente members in San Francisco over a two year period, from October 1996 through October 1998 and addressed the effect of caffeine among women who did not change their ingestion of caffeine throughout their pregnancy. The study found that women who drank 200mg or more of caffeine per day had twice the risk of miscarriage as those who did not drink caffeine at all. 200mg of caffeine is the equivalent of two or more cups of regular coffee or five 12-ounce cans of caffeinated soft drinks. Women who ingested less than 200mg of caffeine in a day had more than 40 percent higher risk of miscarriage than women who did not ingest caffeine.

The source of caffeine did not change the effect of it on pregnancy. Soft drinks, hot chocolate, tea and coffee all had the same effect, so the idea that the chemicals found in coffee were somehow implicated in miscarriage was debunked since sources of caffeine outside of coffee showed similar results to coffee.

Step Away From The Caffeine

"The main message for pregnant women from these findings is that they probably should consider stopping caffeine consumption during pregnancy because this research provides clearer and stronger evidence that high doses of caffeine intake during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage," said Dr. Li.

The negative effects of caffeine as it crosses the placenta to the baby is due to the inability of the baby to metabolize the caffeine. The baby's metabolic system is underdeveloped and unable to deal with the load. Caffeine may also affect the development of cells and cause restriction in the blood flow of the placenta. This may lead to adversely affected fetal development.

The findings reported that 172 women who participated in the study (16.18 percent) miscarried. There were 264 women (25 percent) who reported no caffeine consumption, 635 (60 percent) who consumed 0-200mg of caffeine per day and 164 women (15 percent) had an intake of 200mg or more of caffeine in a day.

What's A Woman To Do?

Tracy Flanagan, MD, Director of Women's Health, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, advises women who need an energy jolt and feel caffeine is the only way, said, "If you definitely need caffeine to get you going, try keeping it to one cup or less a day. Avoiding it may be better. Consider switching to decaffeinated coffee and other decaffeinated beverages during your pregnancy."

She suggested that a pregnant woman can get a quick pick-up from natural energy boosters like a brisk walk, yoga stretches, and snacking on dried fruits and nuts.

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