No amount of coffee consumption safe for pregnant women, finds BMJ study
Coffee is is one of most widely consumed drink globally. It has psychoactive substance and many people, including pregnant women consume it on a daily basis.
Researchers have found in an analysis of Observational studies that maternal caffeine consumption is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes and that there is no safe level of consumption. Therefore women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should be advised to avoid caffeine. The new study has been published in BMJ Evidence Based Medicine.
The negative pregnancy outcomes include miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, preterm birth, childhood acute leukemia, childhood overweight and childhood obesity.
This study undertook a review of current evidence on caffeine-related pregnancy outcomes, to determine whether the recommended safe level of consumption for pregnant women is soundly based.
Through database searches, Professor Jack James, of Reykjavik University, Iceland, identified 1,261 English language peer-reviewed articles linking caffeine and caffeinated beverages to pregnancy outcomes.
These were whittled down to 48 original observational studies and meta-analyses published in the past two decades reporting results for one or more of six major negative pregnancy outcomes: miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age, preterm birth, childhood acute leukaemia, and childhood overweight and obesity.
A total of 42 separate findings were reported in 37 observational studies; of these 32 found that caffeine significantly increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and 10 found no or inconclusive associations. Caffeine-related risk was reported with moderate to high levels of consistency for all pregnancy outcomes except preterm birth.
Eleven studies reported on the findings of 17 meta-analyses, and in 14 of these maternal caffeine consumption was associated with increased risk for four adverse outcomes: miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age, and childhood acute leukaemia. The three remaining meta-analyses did not find an association between maternal caffeine consumption and preterm birth.
No meta-analyses looked at the association between maternal caffeine consumption and childhood overweight and obesity, but four of five observational studies reported significant associations.
This is an observational study, so can't establish causation, and the author points out that the results could be impacted by other confounding factors, such as recall of caffeine consumption, maternal cigarette smoking and most importantly pregnancy symptoms. Pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy are predictive of a healthy pregnancy and women who experience them are likely to reduce their caffeine intake.
But he adds that the dose-responsive nature of the associations between caffeine and adverse pregnancy outcomes, and the fact some studies found no threshold below which negative outcomes were absent, supports likely causation rather than mere association.
Professor James concludes that there is "substantial cumulative evidence" of an association between maternal caffeine consumption and diverse negative pregnancy outcomes, specifically miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age, childhood acute leukaemia and childhood overweight and obesity, but not preterm birth.
As a result, he adds, current health recommendations concerning caffeine consumption during pregnancy are in need of "radical revision."
Dr Kamal Kant Kohli-MBBS, DTCD- a chest specialist with more than 30 years of practice and a flair for writing clinical articles, Dr Kamal Kant Kohli joined Medical Dialogues as an Editor-in-Chief for the Speciality Medical Dialogues section. Besides writing articles, as an editor, he proofreads and verifies all the medical content published on Medical Dialogues including those coming from journals, studies,medical conferences,guidelines etc. Before Joining Medical Dialogues, he has served at important positions in the medical industry in India including as the Hony. Secretary of the Delhi Medical Association as well as the chairman of Anti-Quackery Committee in Delhi and worked with other Medical Councils in India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact no. 011-43720751