A new study from researchers in Queensland and overseas suggests that low-level caffeine consumption is safe for mums-to-be.
Australia’s health guidelines suggest women are safe to drink one or two cups of coffee a day while pregnant (about 200 milligrams of caffeine) while the World Health Organisation’s guidelines are slightly higher (300 milligrams a day).
In this latest work, the researchers took the interesting approach of analysing the genes of pregnant women as a proxy for their coffee-drinking behaviours. The idea was that our genome predisposes us to varying levels of caffeine consumption. With a certain strand of genes you might consume three cups a day, while with another you might not enjoy drinking coffee at all.
The researchers worked out eight different genetic profiles having varying associations with caffeine consumption and looked at the outcomes of pregnancy for each of them including miscarriage, stillbirth and pre-term birth.
Overall, the researchers found no evidence of a link between coffee consumption and poorer pregnancy outcomes. That’s in line with other large studies that have been done in this area.
The authors suggest that historical studies that did seem to show a link, might have been confounded by coffee-drinkers having poorer diets or other behaviours that might be more common in coffee-drinkers such as smoking or alcohol consumption.
This study adds weight to the recommendations from health bodies in Australia and internationally that drinking low levels of caffeine during pregnancy doesn’t lead to bad outcomes for mum or her baby.