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BBC Health Reporter Sharon Alcock
"Pregnant women should be careful about taking in caffeine"
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Wednesday, 20 December, 2000, 08:18 GMT
Coffee 'increases miscarriage risk'
Coffee beans
Large amounts of coffee may pose a risk to pregnant women
Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day during early pregnancy risks miscarriage, warn researchers.

They say the chances of having a miscarriage double.

The Swedish researchers say mothers-to-be should cut down on their caffeine intake.

Women who drank more than four cups of coffee per day had double the increase of spontaneous abortions

Professor Sven Cnattingius, Karolinska Institute
Professor Sven Cnattingius of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, led the research group which produced the study.

He said: "We found that women who drank more than four cups of coffee per day had double the increase of spontaneous abortions."

He added that those who drank two to three cups increased their risk of suffering a miscarriage by 30% to 40%.

He added: "I think you should reduce caffeine intake in early pregnancy, I think this study clearly shows that."

The study group consisted of 562 Swedish women who had miscarriages between the sixth and 12th week of pregnancy compared with 953 women who had normal births.

Researchers found that 76% of women consumed caffeine from coffee, 23% from tea and 1% from other sources.

Other risk factors like previous miscarriages, smoking, age and morning sickness were also examined.

Smoking effect

Professor Cnattingius said the caffeine risk was confined to non-smokers but said smoking was itself a risk factor and may have concealed the caffeine related risk.

The Coffee News Information Service, the communications arm of the Oxfordshire based Coffee Science Information Centre, said in a statement that mothers-to-be should not panic.

It added: "The Centre for Pregnancy Nutrition advises that it is safe for women to consume 240-300mg of caffeine if pregnant or breast feeding.

"A cup of instant coffee contains 60mg, which means five cups are within recommended limits.

"Also, the average intake of coffee in the UK is two cups per day, so pregnant women who consume this amount need not be concerned."

A spokesman added that the study had demonstrated an association and not a cause and effect between caffeine and miscarriages.

Government advice is that pregnant women should be careful about their caffeine intake from all sources because it may effect the birth weight of their baby.

The research will be published in the American-based New England Journal of Medicine.

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