Genetic analysis reveals coffee is safe during pregnancy

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A recent study used genetics to examine coffee drinking behavior in pregnant woman and found that limited consumption of coffee had no impact on the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. According to the study, current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines suggest that pregnant woman drink no more than 300 milligrams (mg) of coffee per day. However, these guidelines were based on the results of observational studies which included other variables like smoking, alcohol, and poor diet. For this study, researchers sought to find out whether there was a direct correlation between coffee consumption in pregnant women and adverse birth outcomes.

Using a method known as Mendelian Randomization (MR), which, according to the study, uses genetic variants related to a specific exposure to determine a causal effect in observational studies, researchers examined the relationship between coffee consumption and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Genetic data was gathered from the Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium, the UK Biobank, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Patents and Children, and 23andMe.

“Because we can’t ask women to drink prescribed amounts of coffee during their pregnancy, we used genetic analyses to mimic a randomized control trial,” said Daniel Hwang, PhD, affiliate research fellow at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute Faculty of Medicine in a statement.

The study’s results showed that woman who drank coffee had no greater risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth than woman who did 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 the risk of these pregnancy outcomes,” Hwang said.

Although the study’s results suggest that coffee is not harmful to certain pregnancy outcomes, researchers warned that coffee may still have negative effects on fetal development and recommended a low to moderate consumption of coffee for pregnant women.