A study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the United States has unearthed a surprising result: a woman's risk of miscarriage not only depends on her own caffeine consumption, but on that of her male partner. This finding is one of the first to show that men's dietary intake can affect the risk of pregnancy loss.
How Does Male Caffeine Consumption Affect Miscarriage?
The study measured the amount of caffeine consumed by men shortly before their female partners became pregnant. When men drank three or more caffeinated beverages, such as tea, coffee, or soda, per day, the risk of early miscarriage increased by 74 percent compared to drinking no caffeine. Researchers aren't sure why this effect occurs, but it could be due to the effects of caffeine on sperm quality. Of course, once conception has occurred, men can safely drink as much caffeine as they like, although their pregnant partners need to be more careful.
What About Female Caffeine Consumption?
In women, the recent study confirms what previous studies have already indicated: a woman who consumes three or more caffeinated beverages per day are much more likely to experience early miscarriages than those who drink less caffeine. The study didn't compare different types of caffeinated beverages, so it's not clear whether an espresso is more or less harmful than a caffeine-rich energy drink.
Is There a Safe Level of Caffeine Consumption?
According to the Women and Children's Health Network, women should limit caffeine intake to no more than four cups of caffeinated tea or two weak cups of coffee per day when pregnant or trying to conceive. This advice is in line with the results of the recent study, which showed no significant effect of drinking one or two cups of coffee per day, in either men or women.
How to Reduce your Risk of Miscarriage
Cutting back on caffeine before you conceive (and persuading your partner to do the same) could be one way to reduce the risk of early miscarriage. In addition to cutting back on coffee, it's also a good idea to stop smoking, limit your alcohol intake, and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Finally, one of the best ways to protect against pregnancy loss is to ensure you get good antenatal care from a qualified healthcare professional. During antenatal appointments, healthcare professionals can perform scans to check the baby is healthy, review your health during pregnancy, and give advice on how to reduce the risk of miscarriage.