(NaturalNews) A recently released study shows that women who drink moderate amounts of caffeine during their pregnancy can double their chance of miscarriage. The study was published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology on January 21st. Dr. De-Kun Li, the lead author and investigator in the study, found that women who consumed 200 milligrams or more per day significantly increased the probability of miscarriage. 200 milligrams is equivalent to about two cups of coffee. Other known risk factors of the mother were taken into consideration, such as smoking habits and age of the mother.
The Keiser Permanente study monitored 1,063 women starting early in their pregnancies. The women self reported their caffeine consumption. Among women who did not consume any caffeine at all, the miscarriage rate was 12.5 percent. Women who consumed 200 mg or more had a miscarriage rate of 25.5 percent. There was also an increased risk for women who consumed less than 200 mg, but Dr. Li says that the increase is very small and not statistically significant. According to the researchers, the increase in miscarriage was unrelated to the source of the caffeine. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and sodas all caused the same increase.
Caffeine is difficult for the fetus to metabolize, according to Dr. Li. It can also decrease blood flow to the placenta, constrict arteries, and influence cell development. He recommends that pregnant women give up all caffeine for at least the first three to four months of pregnancy. The majority of miscarriages happen in the first trimester. "If, for whatever reason, they really can't do it, think of cutting to one cup or switching to decaf," Dr. Li said. "Stopping caffeine really doesn't have any downside."
Doctors have disagreed in the past on the effects of caffeine. Many Ob/Gyns urge their patients to limit caffeine intake, but it is not an across-the-board recommendation. There have been other studies, which have linked caffeine to low birth weight, but experts disagree on the significance of those findings.
Dr. Li's study addressed an important issue that had not been resolved in previous studies. It is an accepted fact that women who experience morning sickness are far less likely to miscarry. Hormonal changes that cause nausea may contribute to a healthy pregnancy, some researchers said this could cause confusion in caffeine studies. They argued that women may consume less caffeine overall simply because they feel sick. While caffeine studies may show that they did not miscarry due to less caffeine, other researchers conclude that these women had healthier pregnancies to begin with. Dr. Li claims that his research team was able to determine that the risk came from caffeine, and morning sickness can not be used to debunk his research.
There are no current official guidelines by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on the consumption of caffeine. Dr. Li hopes that his study will change that.
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Catherine Zoerb loves to read, write, and inform. She lives with her husband, their roommate, and a mini-zoo of small animals in Wichita, KS.