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Caffeine: Can You or Can’t You

Filed Under: Women's Health at 10:27 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Woman with CoffeeThe combination of caffeine and pregnancy is widely viewed as a toxic cocktail, so much so that California is currently considering adding caffeine to the state’s list of harmful substances. If this occurred, warning labels would adorn all products that added caffeine, such as soda and energy pills. Items with naturally occurring caffeine, namely coffee, tea and chocolate, would not have to comply. Supporters of the change cite evidence that connects the substance with spontaneous abortion, decreased fetal growth and low birth weight. They claim that caffeine is undoubtedly and overwhelmingly harmful to pregnant women, but they may be a little off.

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine recently examined the relationship between moderate coffee consumption and miscarriage. They found none. Two hundred and fifty-eight of the 2,407 women miscarried, but the cause could not be attributed to their coffee habit. The researchers concluded, then, that it was safe to consume caffeine, in moderation, while pregnant. So, drink up?

Not just yet.

It’s important to note that the women in the study consumed less than two cups of coffee a day before they got pregnant and even less once they were. A full-fledged caffeine addiction could be considerably more detrimental, as more recent studies are wont to point out. Furthermore, this study only looked at the correlation between coffee and miscarriage. It didn’t look at fetal development or birth weight. So I would say that if you can do so without serious withdrawal, give up caffeine. If you don’t think you can completely abandon it, drink it in extremely limited amounts. The restriction may be painful at first, but in nine months, when you have your baby in your arms and your first post-pregnancy cup of coffee at your elbow, it will be more than worth it.

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