- Pregnancy is a time of unique health challenges, which puts the emphasis on diet and lifestyle to stay healthy.
- Health professionals are always struggling to understand what is safe to eat and drink during pregnancy and what can harm a child’s development.
- In a reassuring finding, a new study suggests that drinking moderate amounts of coffee during pregnancy probably does not contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriages or stillbirths.
Pregnant women should watch what they eat and drink during their term. Based on the available evidence, doctors make recommendations on the best steps to take during pregnancy.
One area of ongoing research is the impact of caffeine during pregnancy.
A recent study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that drinking coffee during pregnancy probably did not contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes such as premature birth, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
Pregnancy is a time when individuals need to take special precautions to ensure the healthy development of their children. Recommendations for a healthy diet to follow during pregnancy have varied over the years as new data has emerged.
Health organizations such as the
One area of mixed data, however, is how much caffeine can be safely consumed during pregnancy, with coffee being the most common source of caffeine.
The authors of the current study note that the ethics surrounding studies of caffeine consumption during pregnancy present distinct hurdles. It would be unethical for researchers to divide women into groups, give them varying amounts of caffeine during pregnancy, and record the results.
Instead, the study authors used a method called Mendelian randomization (MR) to examine the genetic variations caused by caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Author of the study Dr. Gunn-Helen Moen explained to Medical News Today:
“We used genetic analyzes to mimic a randomized controlled trial, using eight genetic variants associated with coffee drinking that predict coffee drinking behavior.”
Dr Brian Powera clinical and academic dietitian who was not involved in the study, also noted the usefulness of this method:
“The study team used a genetic approach called Mendelian randomization, which uses natural genetic differences to simulate the effects of a clinical trial, to test the causal effects of caffeine on pregnancy outcomes. Using this robust genetic analysis among a large population helps eliminate bias in results.
The researchers wanted to know if caffeine consumption caused specific pregnancy problems. They specifically looked at the relationship between coffee consumption during pregnancy and the following:
- premature birth and gestational age
- Birth weight
The methods they used made it possible to separate caffeine consumption from other factors.
Study results suggest coffee probably doesn’t contribute to miscarriages, stillbirths, pregnancy age or premature delivery.
However, the birth weight results suggest that coffee consumption may be associated with higher birth weight. But the authors note that “the magnitude of the effect was inconsistent.”
Dr. Moen noted that dietary advice for pregnant women is often based on
“[T]her study looked at coffee separately and shows that it is not necessary to completely cut out coffee during pregnancy, as we found no effect of coffee consumption on outcomes such as stillbirth, miscarriage or premature birth,” he said. DTM.
The study had 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 looked at some pregnancy outcomes. Coffee consumption may impact other areas of fetal development that the study did not examine. It is important to note that pregnant women should work closely with their doctors and other healthcare professionals throughout their pregnancy to promote the best possible health outcomes.
“However, I would like stress that we haven’t looked at specific developmental factors, such as a baby’s neurological development or organ development, and I think it would be important to explore that further,” Dr. Moen added.
Overall, the study adds to growing evidence that expectant mothers need not worry about moderate coffee consumption during pregnancy.
Dr. Power pointed out to DTM that the results were reassuring and that “no radical revision of current advice” was necessary.
“This interesting study builds on other available evidence that limited caffeine intake is safe for the majority of pregnant women. In other words, limiting consumption to two cups of instant coffee a day should not be a source of of concern.
— Dr. Brian Power
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