Is coffee safe to drink during pregnancy? Genetic study finds no harmful effects

Brisbane, Australia – Pregnant women who love coffee can rejoice, a new genetic study reveals that the popular drink is perfectly safe to drink while women are pregnant. Researchers from the University of Queensland have found that drinking coffee in moderation does not increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth.

“Current guidelines from the World Health Organization state that pregnant women should drink less than 300 mg of caffeine, or two to three cups a day,” says Dr. Gunn-Helen Moen in a statement from the university. “But this is based on observational studies where it is difficult to separate coffee consumption from other risk factors like smoking, alcohol or poor diet. We wanted to know if coffee alone really increases the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, and research shows that is not the case.

Your Genes May Reveal How Much Coffee You Like To Drink

Dr. Daniel Hwang adds that a person’s coffee-drinking tendencies are partly down to genetics. In fact, specific genetic variants can impact how much coffee people like to drink.

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

Specifically, the study authors used a technique called Mendelian randomization, which uses eight genetic variants that predict a pregnant woman’s coffee-drinking behavior. From there, they compared these variants to the group’s pregnancy results.

“Because we cannot ask women to drink prescribed amounts of coffee during pregnancy, we used genetic testing to mimic a randomized controlled trial,” says Dr. Hwang.

Morning coffee won’t put your baby at risk

The results reveal that women who drink coffee during pregnancy are no more at risk of complications than women who do not drink 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 their risk of these pregnancy outcomes,” explains Dr. Hwang.

The team notes that their genetic analysis only looked at certain pregnancy risks. They warn that too much coffee consumption could still affect other pregnancy factors, such as the development of the fetus in the womb. For this reason, the study authors continue to recommend that pregnant women keep their coffee intake low to moderate for these nine months.

The study is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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