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Update: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists revised its guidelines about drinking coffee and caffeinated beverages in July of 2010. The new guidelines say that up to 200 mg daily of caffeine does not increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. The new guideline was published in the August 2010 issue of “Obstetrics and Gynecology” and is based on a comprehensive review of all published studies on caffeine risks during pregnancy.
According to the ACOG’s Committee on Obstetric Practice, there is good evidence to show that having a cup of coffee a day doesn’t affect the risk of miscarriage or premature births. Dr. William H. Barth Jr., chairman of the committee, told U.S. News & World Report, “Finally, we have good evidence to show that having a cup of coffee a day is fine and it poses no risk to the fetus.”
For reference, an 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee contains about 137 mg of caffeine, while a cup of instant has about 78 mg of caffeine. If you’re pregnant, you should also be aware of caffeine intake from other beverages and foods and count that against your caffeine for the day.
The committee didn’t make any statement about whether caffeine during pregnancy restricts fetal growth or has other effects on the growing fetus.
Caffeine in Pregnancy and ADHD
An early study suggested that there may be a connection between coffee during pregnancy and ADHD. A study found that children whose mothers had taken the equivalent of 10 cups of coffee a day during pregnancy had three times the risk of ADHD. Once the researchers adjusted the results to account for other factors, however, they found the increased risk was statistically insignificant — that is, they determined that even at that level, children born to mothers who drink coffee have no more risk of having ADHD than those born to mothers who don’t drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks.
It seems that the connection between coffee and pregnancy may not be as simple as most people have always believed. A few recent studies show that drinking moderate amounts of coffee during late pregnancy may not be as bad for you as we’d thought. On the other hand, there seems to be a definite link between coffee and infertility.
Drinking coffee during pregnancy has been one of those automatic no-nos for a very long time, so a study released in January by the British Medical Journal may come as a surprise. Researchers studying the effects of drinking coffee during pregnancy found that “coffee in moderation is safe during pregnancy”. But is it really?
The effects of coffee during pregnancy is extensively researched – and the results of the various studies into the effects of caffeine and coffee on pregnant women, fertility and the development of the growing baby are contradictory at best. This latest study suggests that women who take in less than 300 mgs of caffeine per day are not endangering their babies. That’s widely been reported as ‘about the same amount of caffeine as three cups of coffee’ – and that’s where things get sticky. Is that a cup of home brewed drip coffee? An espresso at your favorite coffee bar? A sixteen ounce latte? A cup of instant? Each of those has a different amount of caffeine – and it’s not always easy to guess which coffee drinks are the most loaded with caffeine.
Another study in Denmark back in 2003 found that women who drank more than eight daily cups of coffee during pregnancy increased their risk of miscarriage or stillbirth by as much as 300%. The researchers suspected that the reason may be that caffeine constricts the blood vessels, meaning that less blood gets through the placenta to the developing baby. They also suggested that the caffeine in coffee may directly affect the baby, whose developing system is far more sensitive to caffeine than the mother’s. Other studies suggest that up to five daily cups of coffee during pregnancy is safe for your baby.
According to most medical experts, the bottom line on drinking coffee during pregnancy is this: pregnant women should reduce their intake of caffeine during pregnancy to about the amount found in 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day.
What about decaffeinated coffee and pregnancy?
There’s far less research into decaffeinated coffee and pregnancy. Since caffeine is the major culprit in the ill effects of drinking coffee during pregnancy, it stands to reason that during pregnancy decaf coffee is fine. There’s no suggestion that decaf has any ill effects on pregnancy at all. In other words, if you must drink coffee during pregnancy decaf coffee is the way to go. Caffeinated coffee should be limited to no more than one to two cups of coffee per day.
The Good News About Coffee in Late Pregnancy
The Danish study reported in January studied the intake of coffee in late pregnancy – the last trimester. It showed that in over 1200 women, those who drank no more than 300 mgs of caffeine a day showed no difference in birth weight or premature births with women who drank strictly decaffeinated coffee during pregnancy. If you really need that shot of caffeine, you might try replacing a few cups of coffee a day with decaffeinated coffee during pregnancy.
A study of 5,144 pregnant women by scientists at the State Department of Health, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and UCSF turned up some surprising results. The study found no significant increased risk for spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, associated with caffeine consumption. Even among women considered heavy caffeine consumers (300 milligrams or three cups of coffee a day) miscarriage risk increased only slightly — about 1.3 times the risk as noncaffeine users. The Study also found that women who drank three or more cups of decaffeinated coffee a day in the first trimester had 2.4 times the risk of miscarriage as those who did not drink decaf.
Read the full study at: http://www.ucsf.edu/daybreak/1997/08/825_caff.htm
Also on BBC: Decaf coffee linked to heart risk
Drinking decaffeinated coffee could increase the risk of heart disease, a study has suggested.
It could lead to a rise in harmful cholesterol levels, the US National Institutes of Health study found.
Read the article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4444908.stm