If you’re expecting to give up coffee when you’re expecting a baby, here’s a jolt of uplifting news: A little bit of joe is safe during pregnancy.
Scientists in Australia determined this after using genetics to analyze coffee drinking behavior. At the heart of their research was one question: Does coffee alone increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes?
World Health Organization guidelines say pregnant women should consume no more than 300 milligrams of caffeine — about two to three cups of coffee a day. But it turns out that guideline is a bit fuzzy because it is based on observational studies where it’s difficult to separate caffeine consumption from other risk factors such as drinking, poor nutrition and smoking.
The answer to coffee consumption lies not just in our desire for a pick-me-up. The researchers determined it also has to do with our genes.
Using a meta-analysis of genetic variants influencing coffee consumption, the scientists studied whether those variants were also associated with birth outcomes.
Because they could not ask women to drink varying levels of coffee while pregnant, the researchers used genetic analyses to mimic a controlled trial.
They determined that coffee-drinking women had no greater risk of stillbirth, miscarriage or premature births. Still, that’s not a license for expectant mothers to overdo the java. The study only looked at certain adverse pregnancy outcomes, not all factors affecting fetal development.
But, the researchers noted, low-to-moderate coffee intake doesn’t elevate pregnancy outcome risks. Think in terms of a single latte or coffee a day — just hold the refills.