Want to have a baby? You may want to rethink that extra cup of coffee.
A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University, published in March 2016, links a high intake of caffeine to miscarriages.
It is the first study of its kind to show that limiting caffeine isn't just important for women — men's caffeine consumption also appears to affect the ability to get and stay pregnant. According to the data, couples who drank three or more cups per day of caffeinated drinks were twice as likely to lose their pregnancies early on. Of the 344 pregnancies studied, 28 percent ended in a miscarriage.
Although this is a high percentage, Dr. Sean Daneshmand, an OBGYN affiliated with Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, says further studies are needed in order to definitively link a person's caffeine intake to miscarriage.
"There are so many other factors that play into a miscarriage besides caffeine alone," says Dr. Daneshmand. "We need to understand the patient's activity levels, diets, smoking and alcohol habits, and whether there are any toxins in the house."
So what is the recommended amount of caffeine for women during pregnancy?
"Given the conflicting research results, I always say moderation is a good rule to follow," says Dr. Daneshmand. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends no more than 200 milligrams a day. For you coffee lovers, that's about one cup.
In addition to being mindful of caffeine consumption, there are important steps to take when trying to get pregnant and reduce the risk of a miscarriage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women planning to become pregnant should take folic acid, a type of B vitamin.
For men and women, the advice is simple. "Follow the rules that make sense," says Dr. Daneshmand. "That is, get good sleep, exercise and nutrition; find ways to reduce stress and focus on positive emotions."
He also recommends that couples seek preconception counseling with a medical professional to discuss medical and psychiatric history.
For those who have experienced a miscarriage, his advice is optimistic. "I tell parents never to lose hope."
For the media: To talk with Dr. Daneshmand about the link between caffeine and miscarriage, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.