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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Caffeine raises Risk of Miscarriage

US researchers found that pregnant women who have large doses of caffeine every day, for example from coffee, tea, hot chocolate or caffeinated soda or fizzy drinks, have an increased risk of losing their baby through miscarriage. The researchers suggest women stop drinking caffeine while pregnant.

The study was conducted in in San Francisco by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and is to be published this week in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The elevated miscarriage risk appears to be due to caffeine and not coffee alone because caffeine from other sources like tea, hot chocolate, and caffeinated soda or fizzy drinks also raised the risk.

Dr. De-Kun Li, who is a Research Scientist at the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Northern California, led the investigation. Kaiser Permanente is the largest insurance group in the US. Li's co-authors were Xiaoping Weng and Roxana Odouli.

Some scientists have suggested caffeine is harmful to the developing fetus because it crosses the placenta and the fetus's metabolic system is not sufficiently developed to cope with caffeine, which can affect cell development directly and indirectly through decreasing blood flow from the placenta.

Others are skeptical of the claim that caffeine increased miscarriage risk, and maintain that the women who do miscarry tend to reduce their caffeine intake anyway because of morning sickness which makes them averse to caffeine, and this leads to a false impression that reducing caffeine intake reduces miscarriage risk.

Li explained that while other studies have shown links between caffeine intake and miscarriage, he and his team were the first to thoroughly control for morning sickness and other factors.

"This study strengthens the association between caffeine and miscarriage risk because it removes speculation that the association was due to reduced caffeine intake by healthy pregnant women," said Li.

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