Here’s some new insight for couples hoping to get pregnant: A study suggests it’s possible that drinking too many caffeinated beverages while trying to conceive could result in a miscarriage. And, interestingly, it doesn’t matter if it’s the man or the woman who’s the coffee addict.
For the study (published in the journal Fertility and Sterility), researchers from the National Institutes of Health followed 500 couples in Michigan and Texas as they tried to conceive. The couples recorded their daily intakes of caffeine, alcohol, and fish, and also noted whether they smoked or took multivitamins. The researchers told the couples to follow their usual routine. The 344 couples who became pregnant with a single child within one year continued on in the study.
Sadly, 98 of those pregnancies (or 28 percent) ended in a miscarriage. The authors noted that women over 35 had nearly twice the risk of miscarriage of younger women, which was unfortunately not surprising. When they looked at caffeine, they found couples in which either partner drank three or more caffeinated beverages per day (including coffee, soda, and energy drinks) had about a 74 percent higher risk of miscarriage than the couples who had one or two. Women were also more likely to miscarry if they had two or more caffeinated drinks a day in the first seven weeks of pregnancy.
It’s important to note that the study doesn’t say caffeine is the cause of miscarriages, as high-caffeine drinkers could have other habits that could contribute to the loss of a pregnancy. And they didn’t track decaf coffee or tease out the risks of coffee versus soda and energy drinks, so there’s that.
A doctor from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study told NBC News there’s no reason to ditch coffee altogether. In fact, some pregnant women will quit right away and treat rebound headaches with potentially harmful pain medications. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says one or two cups of coffee, totaling 200 mg of caffeine, is safe.
The study’s lead author reiterated in a release that men’s habits do matter here. “Male preconception consumption of caffeinated beverages was just as strongly associated with pregnancy loss as females.’”
But overall, this research joins other studies that suggest men’s diets and lifestyles can affect pregnancy chances and babies’ health more than previously thought. A reminder to the pregnancy food police: It takes two, after all.