Perk up, coffee-loving moms-to-be! Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy—drinking a morning cup of coffee or downing a caffeinated soda—does not appear to cause miscarriage or preterm birth, according to a July 21, 2010, opinion statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Why the new position from ACOG? "For years, women have been getting mixed messages about whether or not they should have any caffeine during pregnancy," says Dr. William H. Barth, chair of the Committee on Obstetric Practice (as quoted in the ACOG statement). "After a review of the scientific evidence to date, daily moderate caffeine consumption doesn't appear to have any major impact in causing miscarriage or preterm birth."
But while a few sips seem perfectly safe, ACOG says it remains unclear whether high levels of caffeine consumption have any link to miscarriage.
Moderate caffeine consumption is considered less than 200 mg of caffeine per day. In practical terms, this equates to about 12 ounces of coffee. Caffeinated tea and most soft drinks have much less caffeine (less than 50 mg), as do the average chocolate candy bars (less than 35 mg). High levels of caffeine intake would be considered daily consumption of over 200 mg of caffeine.
ACOG researchers also reviewed the scientific evidence related to caffeine's effect on fetal growth. It found no clear evidence showing that caffeine increases the risk of restricting fetal growth.
When asked what this means for pregnant women, Dr. Barth says, "Given the evidence, we should reassure our pregnant patients and let them know that it's OK to have a cup of coffee."