If you are TTC, both you and your partner should rethink that third cup of coffee. A new study from the National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University in Columbus, published in Fertility and Sterility, finds two or more caffeine drinks a day in the weeks prior to conception increases a woman's miscarriage risk.
There is something coffee addicts like myself can do, however, to lower our risk. Researchers say taking a multivitamin both before conception and during early pregnancy lowers the risk of miscarrying.
For the study, researchers looked at the lifestyle factors of 344 couples enrolled in the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment Study. They all had singleton pregnancies and were followed from before they conceived to the seventh week of gestation. According to the press release, researchers evaluated factors like caffeinated beverage consumption to determine their "hazard ratio," or the daily likelihood of pregnancy loss over a given time period.
The biggest factor in whether a woman miscarried was age; a woman older than 35 had nearly twice the miscarriage risk of a younger woman. As a 37-year-old mom who may want to have another baby, this is not good news for me. Sigh.
But drinking two or more cups of beverages containing caffeine also raised the risk of miscarriage; and that held true for both men and women.
That's what I found most interesting about this study. As lead researcher Dr. Buck Louis explained, "Our findings also indicate that the male partner matters, too. Male preconception consumption of caffeinated beverages was just as strongly associated with pregnancy loss as females'."
Also of interest is that previous studies have looked at caffeine consumption in early pregnancy as a possible risk factor for miscarrying, but researchers noted it could be possible this data is overly influenced by how many women give up coffee due to morning sickness and food aversions, which are signs of a healthy pregnancy. These findings also looked at the use of caffeinated beverages before conception, so it offers stronger proof of an association.
As far as multivitamin use, researchers noted a 55 percent reduction in risk for pregnancy loss in women who popped dailies before conception; a risk reduction of 79 percent was found for women who continued taking vitamins during early pregnancy. Findings confirmed that specifically taking a multi containing vitamin B6 and folic acid helped reduce the risk.
It's worth mentioning this study does not prove cause and effect, but instead offers possible explanations for the higher miscarriage risk. But if you are trying to conceive, why not do everything within your control to ensure a healthy pregnancy? Oh, and it's kinda fun that your partner has to give up something, too!
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.