The safety of drinking coffee during pregnancy and the spread of misconceptions about the self

Why and How, coffee is absolutely safe during pregnancy, and how medical community spreads this myth
Why and How, coffee is absolutely safe during pregnancy, and how medical community spreads this myth

Pregnancy marks a significant and eagerly anticipated phase in a woman’s life, one that is understandably approached with great care and concern for the well-being of the unborn child. Often, not only the expectant mother but also her family, including her husband and even healthcare providers, become exceedingly cautious to mitigate any potential risks.

However, this heightened vigilance sometimes leads to unnecessary precautions being taken, placing undue stress on the pregnant woman as she navigates through a plethora of directives.

One such precaution that has garnered attention is the advice to completely abstain from coffee or tea consumption, a recommendation echoed not only by nutritionists but also by medical professionals.

Let’s debunk some common misconceptions.

The primary concern cited is the potential harm caffeine may pose to the fetus. Yet, it’s noteworthy that many individuals continue to consume caffeine-containing products such as chocolates, soft drinks like cola, and tea during pregnancy, unaware that these also contain caffeine.

Moreover, there is a lack of conclusive evidence linking coffee or caffeine intake directly to fetal harm. Current guidelines suggest a moderate caffeine intake during pregnancy, typically ranging from 200 to 300 milligrams per day from all sources, not limited to coffee alone. Most research focuses on the overall effects of caffeine rather than specifically on coffee consumption.

Recent studies have failed to establish substantial evidence of increased reproductive complications with moderate caffeine consumption. However, it’s worth noting that caffeine readily crosses both the blood-brain and placental barriers, which underscores the importance of reducing overall caffeine intake during pregnancy as a precautionary measure.

Certainly, here is a revised version

1. A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology by B. Clausson and colleagues examined over 950 Swedish women, a population with typically higher caffeine consumption. Through in-person interviews conducted twice during pregnancy, the researchers explored the effects of caffeine on birth weight, gestational age, and birth weight standardized for gestational age (birth weight ratio). The results indicated no association between moderate caffeine consumption and reduced birth weight, gestational age, or fetal growth.

2. M.L. Browne, from the Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology under the New York State Department of Health, conducted a comprehensive review of epidemiological studies spanning from 1966 to 2004 regarding caffeine intake and pregnant women. Browne concluded that there is no evidence supporting a teratogenic effect of caffeine in humans.

3. In a study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology, a team of Polish researchers led by M. Jarosz followed over 500 pregnant women until birth. Their findings revealed that over 98% of pregnant women consumed less than 300 mg of caffeine per day. The study found no association between maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and the risk of premature birth or newborn birth weight.

4. A 2007 study in the British Medical Journal led by B. H. Bech recruited approximately 1200 Danish pregnant women who consumed at least 3 cups of coffee a day and were less than 20 weeks pregnant. These women had no history of certain medical conditions. The study found no significant effects on birth weight or length of gestation among women who drank three or more cups of coffee a day during early pregnancy.

5. Contrary to some studies suggesting higher caffeine intake thresholds, a 2003 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology led by Michael Bracken suggested that low birth weight in babies was only observed in women consuming more than 600 mg of caffeine per day. Moderate coffee intake was deemed safe for pregnant women.

6. Similarly, a 2008 study in Epidemiology led by David Savitz found little evidence indicating harmful effects of caffeine on miscarriage risk up to 300 mg/day.

7. Several studies recommend limiting caffeine intake to 200-300 mg/day. A 2010 meta-analysis by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200 mg/day) does not significantly contribute to miscarriage or preterm birth risk.

8. Conversely, an April 2013 study published in the Canadian Family Physician suggests setting the upper limit of caffeine intake during pregnancy at 300 mg/day.

Let’s see the studies:

9. A 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from the Netherlands, led by R. Bakker, evaluated 7346 pregnant women. The study found that caffeine intake exceeding 540 mg/day during pregnancy was associated with impaired fetal weight and length growth.

10. A 2014 meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Epidemiology by Darren Greenwood and colleagues suggests that while low to moderate caffeine consumption doesn’t significantly increase miscarriage risk, higher caffeine intake (200-300 mg/day) may elevate the risk, particularly when combined with smoking or alcohol consumption.

11. Another 2014 meta-analysis in BMC Medicine led by L. W. Chen assessed 13 studies involving over 90,000 participants. The study concluded that higher maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of delivering low birth weight infants.

12. Current guidelines from organizations such as the World Health Organization and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend caffeine intake during pregnancy not exceeding 200-300 mg/day. These guidelines emphasize the importance of minimizing caffeine intake to optimize fetal growth.

13. A 2015 meta-analysis in the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics led by Li. J evaluated 26 studies and suggested that increased caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of pregnancy loss.

14. Another meta-analysis published in Public Health Nutrition in 2015 by a team led by L. W. Chen evaluated over 130,000 subjects. The study found that high maternal caffeine intake was linked to a significantly higher risk of pregnancy loss.

15. A 2015 study from Harvard published in Plos One by J. Rhee and colleagues highlighted that pregnant women metabolize caffeine slower than non-pregnant women, leading to prolonged exposure to the fetus. This prolonged exposure has been associated with adverse outcomes such as low birth weight.

16. A 2016 study in Obesity by Dutch researchers examined the associations between maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and offspring growth patterns. The study found that higher maternal caffeine intake was associated with lower birth weight and higher body mass index in children.

17. A 2017 systematic review published in Food and Chemical Toxicology by a team of US researchers led by Daniel Wikoff found that consumption of up to 400 mg caffeine/day in healthy adults and up to 300 mg caffeine/day in healthy pregnant women is generally not associated with adverse effects.

18. A 2017 study in the Journal of Pregnancy and Child Health by Minyahil Alebachew Woldu suggested that consuming more than 300 mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy may lead to a statistically insignificant reduction in birth weight.

 Ethiopian researcher MinyahilAlebachewWoldu

19. A 2018 study in Nutrients by Australian researchers led by Amy Peacock found that excess caffeine intake before pregnancy awareness may increase the risk of lower birth weight. The study emphasized the importance of adhering to guidelines recommending caffeine intake not exceeding 200-300 mg/day during pregnancy.