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Consumption of excessive amounts of caffeine by a woman and her partner before pregnancy and even during pregnancy has been found to be linked with increased likelihood of miscarriage in the ensuing pregnancy.

Miscarriages and intake of excessive amount of caffeine have been found to be intricately linked. A recent study carried out for the purpose of observing harmful effects of various lifestyle factors on pregnancy found evidence that caffeine increases the odds of miscarriage.

The study was led by Germaine Buck Louis, Ph.D., director of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. This study was later published in Fertility and Sterility.

The data for this research was obtained from the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study which was done to assess the association between fertility, lifestyle and exposure to environmental chemicals. In the LIFE Study, 501 couples participated from four different counties in Michigan and 12 counties in Texas, from the year 2005 to 2009.

For this study, various lifestyle factors such as smoking, intake of caffeinated beverages and the use of multivitamin supplements were studied in 344 couples with a singleton pregnancy starting prior to conception till the seventh week of pregnancy.

The results of the study were reported by using a statistical concept called hazard ratio which analyzes the probability of a particular health outcome during a particular time frame. The consumption of caffeinated beverages was analyzed in terms of the daily likelihood of pregnancy loss over a given time period. A score of more than 1 shows an increased risk of miscarriage each day following conception, and a score less than 1 indicates a decreased daily risk.

Caffeine Increases the Chances of Miscarriage

Out of the 344 pregnancies that were analyzed, 98 terminated in a miscarriage (28%). According to the study, the couples who consumed more than two caffeinated beverages a day prior to pregnancy were likely to face miscarriage. Similarly, women who consumed more than two cups of caffeinated beverages on a daily basis during the first seven weeks of pregnancy also carried a high risk of miscarriage.

The study also found out that women who take vitamin supplements on a daily basis before and during pregnancy faced far less chances of miscarriage as compared to the women who didn’t take these multivitamins.

Prior to conception, miscarriages were related with female age of 35 and above. Consumption of increased caffeine by both males and females was associated with a high hazard ratio of 1.74 for females and 1.73 for males.

The causal relationship between caffeine consumption and miscarriages could not be established precisely. The high risk of miscarriages as a result of caffeine intake was ascribed to the advanced age of sperm and egg in older couples or cumulative exposure to substances in the environment, which could be expected to increase as people age.

The researchers said that there was a possibility that miscarriage resulted from a normal pregnancy rather than caffeine interfering with the pregnancy. For instance, the symptoms of nausea and vomiting that are frequently experienced during pregnancy may cause women to stop drinking the caffeinated beverages.

Since an association was found between miscarriages and pre-pregnancy consumption of caffeine, it was inferred that intake of caffeine during pregnancy can also yield the same harmful effects. The researchers also noticed decreased miscarriages in women taking multivitamins like vitamin B6 and folic acid.

This study has provided valuable insight into the information that every couple should follow while planning a pregnancy in order to minimize the chances of miscarriage. It is advised that the amount of caffeine should not be more than two caffeinated drinks per day. Folate and vitamin B6 supplementation is recommended to every woman starting prior to conception.  In this way, optimization of pregnancy can ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy.

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