Study links miscarriages to caffeine

January 21, 2008 9:53:21 AM PST
Pregnant women may want to think twice before ordering that double latte. New research warns there may be a link between caffeine and miscarriage.

The majority of miscarriages are because of chromosomal abnormality - not because of anything a mother does or eats or drinks, but research suggests caffeine could be linked to miscarriages.

The last thing new and expecting moms need with their daily cup of coffee is a shot of guilt. But that's exactly what we brought with us to the Tumble and Tea Cafe in Oakland when we told moms about a new study from Kaiser Permanente linking caffeine intake to miscarriage.

"Oh really - well I think I'm ok at this point - I didn't know that," said Jennifer Bevington, expectant mom.

Jennifer Bevington is about eight months pregnant and yes she probably is okay -- the study found the greatest risk during the first half of pregnancy. That's when Tammy Plotkin-Oren suffered her miscarriage.

"I was probably drinking three to four cups of coffee a day," said Tammy Plotkin-Oren, caffeine free mom.

She was so devastated over the loss - she decided to do everything she could to try and have a successful pregnancy. That included cutting out caffeine - and she now has three healthy daughters. She'll never know if caffeine truly was the problem - but cutting it out certainly brought her peace of mind.

"There's no way of knowing, but it seemed like I can do it and I should be doing it anyways, so I'm just going to do it," said Tammy Plotkin-Oren.

The research followed more than a thousand women who didn't change their caffeine intake once they got pregnant. It's one of the largest studies to look at the relationship between caffeine and miscarriage.

"Women who had high caffeine intake, in this case 200 milligrams, their risk of miscarriage doubled," said De-Kun Li, MD, Ph.D, Kaiser Permanente.

That's about two cups of coffee a day.

Kaiser obstetrician Tracy Flanagan says the study is strong enough to convince her to change how she advises her patients.

"I think my recommendation is going to be stronger to women to think about limiting their caffeine intake to one cup of coffee and if possible cut out all caffeinated beverages during pregnancy, but particularly during the first three months," said Tracy Flanagan, MD, obstetrician, gynecologist.

The research will certainly cause moms to add one more thing to their list of things to worry about. Even some of the moms at the cafe with healthy children are saying they would do it differently now if they got pregnant.

"If I read anything along those lines I would hold off," said Allison Skidgel, mom.

But Tammy Plotkin-Oren is quick to point out - this is not the time for women to be hard on themselves.

"If there is a woman who sees this and she has had a couple of miscarriages and she's a coffee drinker, I think it's a really dangerous thing if she starts to blame herself for the miscarriage," said Tammy Plotkin-Oren.

There are some studies out there -- including one from 2004 -- that conclude moderate caffeine intake has no adverse effects on pregnancies. It can all be very confusing and that's why it's worth checking with your doctor to discuss what's best for you. This study will appear in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.


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