Genes reveal coffee is safe during pregnancy

Researchers from the University of Queensland discovered that drinking a daily latte or long black does not increase the risk of pregnancy.

Dr. Gunn-Helen Moen, Dr. Daniel Hwang, and Dr. Caroline Brito Nunes from the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland used genetics to study coffee drinking behaviour, and their findings indicate that moderate coffee consumption during pregnancy did not increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth.

Current World Health Organization guidelines recommend that pregnant women consume less than 300 mg of caffeine per day, or two to three cups.

“However, this is based on observational studies in which it is difficult to disentangle coffee consumption from other risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and poor diet.”

The research indicates that coffee alone does not significantly increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

According to Dr. Hwang, coffee drinking behaviour is partially influenced by genetics, with a specific set of genetic variants influencing the amount of coffee we consume.

“We demonstrated that these genetic variants influence coffee consumption not only in the general population, but also in pregnant women,” he explained.

The researchers used a technique known as Mendelian Randomisation to examine whether eight genetic variants that predicted pregnant women’s coffee consumption were also associated with birth outcomes.

“Because we cannot require pregnant women to consume prescribed amounts of coffee, we used genetic analyses to simulate a randomised controlled trial,” Dr. Hwang explained.

The genetic analysis revealed that women who consumed coffee did not have an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth.

“When it comes to diet during pregnancy, women are frequently advised to avoid certain foods, but this study demonstrates that they can continue to drink coffee without increasing their risk of these adverse pregnancy outcomes,” Dr. Hwang said.

The researchers emphasise that the study examined only a subset of adverse pregnancy outcomes, and it is possible that caffeine consumption could influence other crucial aspects of foetal development.

“Therefore, we do not recommend a high intake of coffee during pregnancy, but rather a low or moderate intake,” Dr. Moen said.

This study utilised genetic information from the Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium, UK BioBank, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and 23andMe.

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