Women are more likely to miscarry during pregnancy if they or their partners drink more than two caffeinated beverages daily before they conceive, finds new research from the National Institutes of Health. But whether that risk is directly tied to caffeine consumption is still up for debate.

Why it matters:

Certain lifestyle factors like smoking, diet, and exercise seem to play a role in pregnancy outcomes. Previous research has found that caffeine consumption in the first few weeks of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. This study extended that window to look at behavior even before conception.

The nitty gritty:

The longitudinal study of 344 couples found that women were 1.74 times as likely to miscarry if they drank more than two caffeinated beverages a day in the weeks before they got pregnant, as compared to their peers who consumed less caffeine. Similarly, women whose partners drank more than two caffeinated beverages a day during the same time period were 1.73 times as likely to miscarry.

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But keep in mind:

The study wasn’t able to pinpoint whether caffeine consumption was directly tied to pregnancy loss. It could be that drinking more coffee every day is a sign of other risk factors — like a lack of sleep or greater stress — that could actually be affecting the health of a pregnancy. It’s also possible that consuming caffeine through sugary drinks like sodas could be causing problems.

“Having a cup of coffee a day is OK, but having multiple Cokes or cups of coffee when you’re trying to get pregnant is not ideal,” said Dr. Shannon Clark, an obstetrician-gynecologist with the University of Texas Medical Branch, who was not affiliated with the study. “Hydration with water is ideal,” she added.

The bottom line:

Women who are trying to become pregnant and are worried about the effects of caffeine might want to curb their coffee consumption (and that of their partners). That being said, there’s no evidence yet of a direct link between caffeine consumption and miscarriage.

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