Moderate Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy Does Not Increase Miscarriage Risk
WebMD News Archive
Caffeine is a stimulant that crosses the placenta, meaning it easily passes
from mother to child. Based largely on data from animal studies showing harmful
effects of caffeine on fetuses, the FDA has advised since 1981 that pregnant
women "avoid caffeine-containing foods and drugs, if possible, or consume
them only sparingly."
But as Brenda Eskinazi, PhD, points out in an editorial accompanying
Klebanoff's study, most pregnant women do not heed this advice. "In part
because of our own dependence on our morning cup of coffee, and because of our
inability to find strong associations with effects on health in humans, we have
accepted that more than 75% of pregnant women consume caffeinated
beverages," writes Eskinazi, of the University of California School of
Public Health, Berkeley. She says health care providers should continue to
counsel women who are pregnant or breast-feeding to limit their caffeine
intake. Eskinazi also points out that in addition to the risk of miscarriage,
caffeine has been linked in animal and human studies to changes in fetal heart
rate and breathing patterns, decreased brain weight and alterations in brain
development, learning and memory.
"We only looked at risk of spontaneous abortions [miscarriages] in this
study and we didn't see any increased risk until women were consuming very
large amounts of caffeine," Klebanoff says. "So it seems to me that the
best advice is that moderation in all things is always a good idea, but there
are probably more important things for pregnant women to worry about than
whether they are having a cup of coffee or two a day or a cup of tea or two a
- Drinking moderate amounts of caffeine does not appear to increase the risk
of miscarriage in pregnant women.
- The rate of miscarriage does start to increase in women who drink more than
five cups of coffee per day.
- The majority of women continue to drink caffeine during pregnancy, although
they should still be advised to limit consumption.