- Pregnancy is a time of unique health challenges, with an emphasis on diet and lifestyle to stay healthy.
- Medical professionals are still trying to understand what is safe to eat and drink during pregnancy and what can cause harm to the developing child.
- A reassuring finding is that a new study suggests that drinking moderate amounts coffee during pregnancy is unlikely to contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriages or stillbirths.
Pregnant people should be careful about what they eat and drink during their pregnancy. Based on the available evidence, doctors make recommendations for the best actions during pregnancy.
One area of continuing research is the impact of caffeine during pregnancy.
A recent study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that drinking coffee during pregnancy is unlikely to contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth, miscarriage or stillbirth.
Pregnancy is a time when individuals must take special care to ensure that their children develop healthily. Recommendations for a healthy diet during pregnancy have varied over the years as more data has emerged.
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One area of mixed data, however, is how much caffeine is safe to consume during pregnancy, with coffee being the most common source of caffeine.
Authors of the current study note that the ethics surrounding studies of caffeine intake during pregnancy pose clear barriers. It would be unethical for researchers to divide women into groups, give them different amounts of caffeine during pregnancy, and record the results.
Instead, the study authors used a method called Mendelian randomization (MR) to look at genetic variations caused by caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Study author dr. Gunn-Helen Moen explained to Medical news today:
“We used genetic analyzes to mimic a randomized control study, using eight genetic variants associated with coffee consumption that predict coffee drinking behavior.”
dr. Brian Powera clinical dietitian and academic not involved in the study also noted how helpful this method is:
“The research team used a genetic approach called Mendelian randomization, which uses naturally occurring genetic differences to simulate the effects of a clinical trial, to test caffeine’s causal effects on pregnancy outcomes. Using this robust genetic analysis among a large population helps to remove biases from the results.”
Researchers wanted to know whether caffeine consumption causes specific poor pregnancy outcomes. They specifically examined the relationship between coffee consumption during pregnancy and the following:
- preterm birth and gestational age
- birth weight
The methods they used helped separate caffeine intake from other factors.
Study results suggested coffee is unlikely to contribute to miscarriages, stillbirths, lower gestational age age or premature birth.
However, the birth weight findings suggested that coffee consumption could be associated with higher birth weight. But authors note that “the magnitude of the effect was inconsistent.”
dr. Moen noted that dietary advice for pregnant people is often based on:
†[T]his study looked at coffee separately and shows that you don’t have to cut out coffee altogether during pregnancy because we found no effect of coffee drinking on outcomes such as stillbirth, miscarriage or preterm birth,” he said. MNT†
The study did have some limitations. First, the study looked specifically at coffee consumption and not at other sources of caffeine or their impact on pregnancy.
The study also only examined certain pregnancy outcomes. Coffee consumption may affect other areas of fetal development that were not addressed in the study. It is important to note that pregnant individuals should work closely with their doctors and other medical professionals during their pregnancy to promote the best possible health outcomes.
“However, I would tension that we haven’t looked at specific developmental factors, such as a baby’s neurodevelopment or organ development, and I think it would be important to look further into that,” added Dr. Get to it.
Overall, the study adds to growing evidence that pregnant people shouldn’t worry too much about moderate coffee intake during pregnancy.
dr. Power noted: MNT that the results were reassuring and that “no radical revision of the current advice” was necessary.
“This interesting study builds on other available evidence that limited caffeine intake is safe for the majority of pregnant women. That is, limiting intake to two cups of instant coffee per day should not be a cause for concern.”
— Dr. Brian Power
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