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New study: Caffeine use prior to conception linked to miscarriages

Zoe Greszler • Apr 2, 2016 at 8:00 PM

Many know the effects of alcohol and drugs can have on a unborn fetus.

What many don’t realize is that caffeine consumption also is linked to miscarriages, according to a new study.

Released by the National Institutes of Health and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the study reveals a woman is more likely to miscarry if she and/or her partner drink more than two caffeinated beverages a day during the weeks leading up to conception.

The study also found women who drank more than two daily caffeinated beverages during the first seven weeks of pregnancy also were more likely to miscarry. However, women who took a daily multivitamin before conception and through early pregnancy were less likely to miscarry than women who didn’t.

Huron County Public Health doesn’t keep track of miscarriage rates, but does examine mother and baby health and infant mortality “as an indicator of the community’s health overall,” health educator Elaine Barman said.

“Our recommendation for women looking into getting pregnant is to see their obstetrician and gynecologist (OBGYN) and watch their caffeine,” she said. “The finding is that as a fetus, it’s affected by caffeine from the egg as well as the sperm.”

A previous study recommended no more than 200 mg of caffeine according to Barman. That recommendation went up by 600 mg, to an upper limit of 800 mg.

"Basically, if a couple who is trying to become pregnant, or a woman who is pregnant stay under two cups a day, they should be fine," Barman said.

Dr. Nina Ali, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine, advises women to be mindful of their diet choices and to drink plenty of water, a good alternative to caffeinated drinks, which can help curb the out-of-control cravings pregnant women often experience.

Along with limiting their caffeine, Ali recommends pregnant women avoid a few specific foods altogether as well.

“Women should not consume unpasteurized milk, hot dogs, lunch meats and cold cuts — unless they are heated to steaming hot, raw or undercooked seafood, eggs and meat, fish with high mercury content such as swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish,” she said.

Barman said the health department recommends anyone who is trying to become or already is pregnant should find an OBGYN and visit them to get a more personal recommendation. 

The study was published online in Fertility and Sterility. It compared lifestyle factors such as cigarette use, caffeinated beverage consumption and multivitamin use among 344 couples.

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