Coffee and Pregnancy

Introduction

Many studies have shown that moderate coffee consumption whilst trying to conceive, pregnant or breast feeding is perfectly safe.

The FSA guidance recommends 300mg of caffeine per day as a safe upper limit.
This is equivalent to:

4 cups or 3 mugs of instant coffee
or
3 cups of brewed coffee
or
6 cups of tea
or
8 cans of cola
or
8 x 50 g bars of plain chocolate1

Coffee and conception

There is no conclusive evidence that moderate coffee consumption is associated with delayed conception.

A study of 11,000 pregnant Danish women showed no link between caffeine consumption and conception time.2 In a further study of 2,817 women, average time to conception was no different in women who consumed more than 7g caffeine per month than in those who did not.3

The hypothesis that those who consumed an amount of caffeine equivalent to one cup of coffee were less likely to conceive than those who consumed smaller amounts was originally supported by a study of 104 women published in 1988.4 However, a comprehensive review, published in 2002, of studies suggesting a link between moderate caffeine consumption and risk of reproductive hazards concluded that “no convincing evidence has been presented to show that caffeine consumption increases the risk of any reproductive adversity”.5

Coffee and pregnancy

There is no significant association between moderate coffee intake of up to 4 cups per day and low birth weight, spontaneous abortion, short gestation or congenital malfunction.5

Available evidence is not consistent with the idea that caffeine consumption increases the risk of spontaneous abortion. The association between caffeine consumption and spontaneous abortion could be attributed to the complication raised by Stein and Susser.6

In early pregnancy, many women find a reduced desire for coffee and other strongly flavoured drinks. Stein and Susser believe this is caused by a surge of hormones from the placenta. Therefore, caffeine consumption in early pregnancy could be a marker for low hormone production signifying a vulnerable pregnancy.

Coffee and breastfeeding

The National Childbirth Trust says coffee need not be eliminated from the diet whilst breastfeeding. A maximum of 3-4 cups of coffee a day should pose no problem for baby. However as caffeine is present in breast milk, any effect on the baby should be monitored and caffeine consumption adjusted.7

References

  1. Food Standards Agency guidance on caffeine consumption during pregnancy.
    Downloaded 25/04/05. Website at: http://www.food.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/2001/oct/caffeinepregnant
  2. Olsen, J. American Journal of Epidemiology, 133, 734-739, 1991.
  3. Joesoef, C.R and Wilcox, A.J. Lancet, 335, 136-137. 1990.
  4. Wilcox, A. et al. Lancet, 2, 1453-1455, 1988
  5. Leviton, A and Cowan, L. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40, 1271-1310. 2002.
  6. Stein, Z. and Susser, M. Epidemiology, 2, 163-167, 1991.
  7. National Childbirth Trust breastfeeding misconceptions survey results.
    Downloaded 25/04/05. Website at: http://www.nctpregnancyandbabycare.com/bfsurvey

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