Miscarriage and coffee link

by ISABEL OAKESHOTT, Evening Standard

It is the favoured morning pick-me-up of the Bridget Jones generation but women were today warned that just one large frothy cappuccino a day could dramatically affect their chances of having a family.

A major study has revealed that women who drink a daily cup of coffee are up to a quarter more likely to lose their babies during pregnancy.

And weary office workers who rely on several cups to make it through the day may increase their risk of miscarriage by more than two thirds.

The warning follows a study of more than 11,000 women in their twenties.

Until now, doctors thought caffeine increased the chance of miscarriage only if women consumed too much during pregnancy.

But latest research suggests caffeine becomes a risk factor well before conception.

Experts from the Danish Cancer Society compared the number of miscarriages among women who drank only small quantities of caffeine in the two years prior to pregnancy to those who drank one or more large cups a day.

They discovered that those who regularly consumed more than 75mg of caffeine - around the same as one large Starbucks milky coffee, such as latte or cappuccino - in the years before pregnancy were 26 per cent more likely to lose their unborn baby.

The more caffeine is consumed, the more the risk appears to rise, with women who admitted having 300mg to 500mg a day having a 45 per cent higher risk of suffering a miscarriage.

Among women who regularly consumed more than 900mg of caffeine the risk of miscarriage soared to 75 per cent more than women who consumed no caffeine at all.

Dr Suzanne Kjaer, who led the study in Copenhagen, said: "Our research suggests that a high intake of caffeine prior to pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion.

Even in the lowest intake range, there seems to be a small increase in risk."

Britain's love affair with coffee bars has led to the opening of outlets on almost every street corner, with sales worth an estimated £400 million a year.

Dr Kjaer said: "Although it sounds a lot, it is not unusual for people to consume more than 900mg of caffeinea day these days. It is not good for you.

"If you are planning a pregnancy, it is definitely advisable to cut down, both in the years leading up to conception and during the pregnancy itself."

The highest caffeine content is found in percolated, filter or drip coffee, with lesser amounts in instant varieties.

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