Coffee doesn’t increase pregnancy risk, genetic study finds


Disclosures: Moen does not report relevant financial information. Please see the study for relevant financial information from all other authors.

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Coffee consumption during pregnancy was not linked to an increased risk of adverse effects, according to a study by the International Journal of Epidemiology.

“Some studies suggest that drinking coffee during pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery,” Gunn Helen MoenPhD, a fellow at the Institute of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, Australia, told Healio. “But many of these studies have not been able to test whether coffee itself is actually driving these results, as this observed association could be due to other factors. For example, women who drink more coffee may sleep less, have more stressful jobs, or have cigarettes with their coffee.

Coffee consumption during pregnancy was not associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, or birth weight. Source: Adobe Stock

Moen and colleagues conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) study using data from the Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium, which included 91,462 cases of coffee consumption. They used data from a large miscarriage meta-analysis; UK Biobank data on stillbirths; data from the 23andMe cohort on gestational age and preterm birth; and UK Biobank and Early Growth Genetics Consortium data on birth weight.

Additionally, the researchers performed genetic risk score analysis on a sample using data from the UK Biobank and the Avon Longitudinal Parent-Child Study.

Gunn-Helen Moen, PhD

Gunn Helen Moen

“Our study used genetic variants that we know are associated with the number of cups of coffee an individual drinks per day,” Moen said. “We used these variants to see if there was a relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery [and birth weight]. Because we used genetic variants, we were able to examine the effect of coffee consumption on these outcomes without the influence of other factors.

The results of the two-sample MR analysis revealed that the genetic variants were not significantly associated with miscarriages, stillbirths, preterm births and birth weight, meaning that coffee consumption n did not increase the risk of these findings, according to Moen.

One-sample genetic risk score analysis showed similar results.

It’s worth noting that both analyzes linked more coffee consumption to higher birth weight, but the magnitude of the effect was inconsistent, the researchers said.

“Our study found no effect of coffee consumption on these outcomes, but I think it’s important to note that we didn’t look at many other potentially interesting and relevant outcomes such as the neurodevelopment of the child,” Moen said. “Because caffeine is a neurostimulator, it might affect the baby in the womb, but we didn’t look at that in our study.”

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