• Dr Peter Chew

Caffeine during Pregnancy

Coffee is the most popular drink in the world. Some consume it in the morning for its gentle stimulatory effect while others who are addicted to it claim that it helps the brain stay alert and concentrate better.


 In are cent workshop, I was asked whether drinking coffee will affect fertility.

Medical research on this issue is conflicting. Some studies indicated that coffee diminished fertility while others found no such connection. One study even suggested that consuming 3 to 7 cups of coffee a day improves fertility!


Why is there so much discrepancy? 

One reason could be due to the timing of the study. Caffeine is broken down in the body at different rates during different phases of menstrual cycle. Its metabolism decreases in the second half of menstruation when fertilisation, implantation and early embryonic development may take place. This may result in an increase in the levels of caffeine in the body and thus the interpretation of results. Another possible reason could be that some women break down caffeine faster than others and so may be less prone to the possible negative effects of caffeine.


At present, the general consensus of medical opinion is that consuming caffeine in moderation would not affect fertility. Having 2-3 cups of coffee a day during fertility treatment is considered alright according to the Nurses’ Health Study by the Harvard School of Public Health when 18,555 participants were surveyed.


What about the effect of coffee on theunborn child?

According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, pregnant women are advised not to take more than two cups of coffee and 1-2 regular cups of caffeinated drinks per day. Caffeine can pass through the placenta to the foetus which does not have the ability to metabolise it.  This may result in miscarriage,preterm birth and growth restriction (baby with low birth weight).


If you do not want to take a chance while undergoing fertility treatment or during pregnancy,either give up coffee altogether or change it to decaffeinated drink.

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