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New Research Finally Proves That Coffee Is Safe During Pregnancy

Genetic analysis found no greater risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth for women who drink coffee.

According to genetic tests conducted by academics at the University of Queensland, drinking a daily latte or long black does not raise the risk of pregnancy

A daily latte or long black does not raise the risk of pregnancy, according to a study from the University of Queensland.

Genetic analysis of coffee drinking behavior by Drs. Gunn-Helen Moen, Daniel Hwang, and Caroline Brito Nunes from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience revealed that limited coffee consumption during pregnancy did not increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth.

Their findings have been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

“Current World Health Organisation guidelines say pregnant women should drink less than 300mg of caffeine or two to three cups per day,” Dr. Moen said.

“But that’s based on observational studies where it’s difficult to separate coffee drinking from other risk factors like smoking, alcohol, or poor diet. We wanted to find out if coffee alone really does increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, and the research shows this isn’t the case.”

Dr. Hwang said coffee-drinking behavior is partly due to genetics, with a specific set of genetic variants affecting how much coffee we drink.

“We showed that these genetic variants not only affect coffee consumption in the general population but also in pregnant women,” he said.


IMB researchers have used genetics to show that a daily coffee causes no increased risk to pregnancy. Credit: University of Queensland

The researchers used a method called Mendelian Randomisation which used eight genetic variants that predicted pregnant women’s coffee-drinking behavior, and examined whether these variants were also associated with birth outcomes.

“Because we can’t ask women to drink prescribed amounts of coffee during their pregnancy, we used genetic analyses to mimic a randomized control trial,” Dr. Hwang said.

The genetic analysis found there was no greater risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth for women who drank coffee.

“When it comes to diet during pregnancy women are often advised to cut things out, but this study shows they can still enjoy coffee without worrying about increasing the risk of these pregnancy outcomes,” Dr. Hwang said.

The researchers emphasize the study only looked at certain adverse pregnancy outcomes, and it is possible caffeine consumption could affect other important aspects of fetal development.

“For that reason, we don’t recommend a high intake during pregnancy, but a low or moderate consumption of coffee,” Dr. Moen said.

This research used genetic data from the Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium, the UK BioBank, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and 23andMe.

The study was funded by the Australian NHMRC and the Norwegian Research Council.

Reference: “Mendelian randomization study of maternal coffee consumption and its influence on birthweight, stillbirth, miscarriage, gestational age and pre-term birth” by Caroline Brito Nunes, Peiyuan Huang, Geng Wang, Mischa Lundberg, Shannon D’Urso, Robyn E Wootton, Maria Carolina Borges, Deborah A Lawlor, Nicole M Warrington, David M Evans, Liang-Dar Hwang and Gunn-Helen Moen, 9 June 2022, International Journal of Epidemiology.
DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyac121

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