Avon population

New Research Finally Proves Coffee Is Safe During Pregnancy

Genetic analysis has revealed no increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in women who drink coffee.

Drinking a latte or a long black every day does not increase the risk of pregnancy, according to genetic tests conducted by academics at the University of Queensland

According to a study from the University of Queensland, a daily latte or a long black does not increase the risk of pregnancy.

Genetic Analysis of Coffee Drinking Behavior by Drs. Gunn-Helen Moen, Daniel Hwang and Caroline Brito Nunes of the University of Queensland’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience found that limited coffee consumption during pregnancy did not increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth.

Their findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

“Current World Health Organization guidelines state that pregnant women should drink less than 300 mg of caffeine or two to three cups a day,” Dr. Moen said.

“But this is based on observational studies where it is difficult to separate coffee consumption from other risk factors like smoking, alcohol or poor diet. We wanted to know if coffee alone really increases the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, and research shows that this is not the case.

Dr Hwang said coffee drinking behavior is partly down to genetics, with a specific set of genetic variants affecting how much coffee we drink.

“We have shown that these genetic variants not only affect coffee consumption in the general population but also in pregnant women,” he said.


IMB researchers used genetics to show that daily coffee does not lead to an increased risk of pregnancy. Credit: University of Queensland

The researchers used a method called Mendelian randomization that used eight genetic variants that predicted coffee-drinking behavior in pregnant women and examined whether these variants were also associated with birth outcomes.

“Because we cannot ask women to drink prescribed amounts of coffee during pregnancy, we used genetic testing to mimic a randomized controlled trial,” Dr. Hwang said.

Genetic analysis revealed that there was no increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth for women who drank coffee.

“When it comes to diet during pregnancy, women are often advised to cut things out, but this study shows they can still enjoy coffee without worrying about increasing their risk of these pregnancy outcomes,” said Dr. Hwang.

The researchers point out that the study only looked at some adverse pregnancy outcomes, and it’s possible that caffeine consumption could affect other important aspects of fetal development.

“For this reason, we do not recommend high consumption during pregnancy, but low or moderate coffee consumption,” Dr. Moen said.

This research used genetic data from the Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium, the UK BioBank, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and 23andMe.

The study was funded by the Australian NHMRC and the Research Council of Norway.

Reference: “Mendelian randomization study on maternal coffee consumption and its influence on birth weight, stillbirth, miscarriage, gestational age and preterm birth” by Caroline Brito Nunes, Peiyuan Huang, Geng Wang, Mischa Lundberg, Shannon D’Urso, Robyn E Wootton, Maria Carolina Borges, Deborah A Lawlor, Nicole M Warrington, David M Evans, Liang-Dar Hwang and Gunn-Helen Moen, June 9, 2022, International Journal of Epidemiology.
DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyac121