Caffeine is associated with various adverse impacts on an individual’s health. While many people consume coffee for refreshment and, in some cases, as a temporary stimulant, excess coffee consumption may result in unhealthy fetuses during pregnancy. In addition, previous studies reveal that pregnant women who consume a lot of coffee have high risks of fetal death or having children with mental or physical challenges. Still, there are significant inconsistencies in the evaluation of the effects of coffee on the fetus. In this article, “Coffee and Fetal Death: A Cohort Study with Prospective Data,” Bech et al. conducted this study to examine the relationship between coffee consumption during pregnancy and the probability of fetal death in Denmark.1 Through various assessments, the authors obtained that excess consumption of coffee during pregnancy has a positive correlation to the increased fetal mortality rate. Despite the researcher’s establishment of a direct link between coffee consumption and fetal death, this paper considers the notable gaps in the data collection and assessment of variables.
Bech et al. investigate the relationship between drinking coffee and fetal loss. Previous studies have linked the consumption of coffee with various adverse pregnancy outcomes such as fetal death, stunted growth, and congenital disabilities. However, these effects are questionable, and most countries have no policies against drinking coffee during pregnancy. As such, the authors aimed to investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of fetal loss during pregnancy while considering several confounders. The study involved 88,482 women who were about 6 to 10 weeks pregnant and were recruited between March 1996 and November 2002. It was done in the Danish National Birth Cohort, a nationwide study in Denmark. One thousand one hundred two fetal deaths were recorded. Participants were asked about their coffee intake, measured in cups per day, and other factors such as fetal death, smoking, drinking, height, and occupation. The National Hospital Discharge Register was used to get information on births. Results from the study indicate that 34% of the participants drank ½–3 cups of coffee per day while 9.7% drank 4-7 cups/day, and 3.4% drank eight or more cups/day. More coffee intake positively correlated with a high risk of fetal loss, often among pregnancies of twenty or more weeks. A surprising finding was that there was no relation between tea and cola consumption with fetal death. In summary, drinking coffee had a positive relationship with the risk of fetal loss. Still, this study was limited by the incomplete data on early nausea and coffee aversion.
Coffee is among the most consumed beverage in most countries. Although it is the primary source of caffeine, most people drink coffee as an everyday habit. However, caffeine is highly associated with several adverse effects on most body organs and tissues. According to Zappettin et al., consuming coffee by a pregnant mother causes harmful effects on fetal development and is likely to cause fetal death.2While this study successfully revealed that caffeine is among the leading causes of fetal death, the accuracy of the results was questionable due to incomplete participants’ information and failure to examine essential variables during the study. The researchers recruited pregnant women with coffee exposure for a comprehensive interview. Although they ensured that all participants had active coffee exposure, they failed to collect early nausea and coffee aversion information. According to Crozier et al., pregnant women who develop early nausea and coffee aversion are unlikely to consume coffee.3 Therefore, failure to obtain early nausea information during the interview could highly affect the outcomes of this study since nausea is associated with reduced coffee consumption. Besides, coffee aversion in pregnant women could likely result in reduced coffee intake hence altering the results of this study. Next, the authors failed to assess three critical variables; type of coffee consumed during pregnancy, the various participants’ coffee brewing methods, and the coffee brands. Although coffee contains caffeine likely to cause fetal death, this study failed to acknowledge that different coffee and brewing methods alter the regular caffeine quantity intake. For instance, the French press coffee brewing method has a significant caffeine quantity compared to cold-brewed coffee. Rashed et al. argue that expectant mothers who consume decaffeinated coffee are less prone to fetal complications than regular coffee.4Therefore, the omission of these variables was likely to interfere with the study’s outcome. Yet, some researchers may challenge the view that early nausea and types of coffee consumed during pregnancy are non-significant variables when determining caffeine’s impact on fetuses. Bech et al. suggest that the inclusion or exclusion of these variables could by no means alter the general outcome of the study. However, Radišić et al., specialists in medical biochemistry and laboratory diagnostics urge that all medical tests and variables be considered when experimenting on any health condition.5 As such, the failure to include all the necessary variables in this study can potentially produce bias results. Moreover, research on fetal death is sensitive and should not be based on assumptions or variables’ inappropriate testing. In summary, the ascertainment of this finding is not reliable due to the elimination of important information on early nausea and coffee aversion and failure to assess all variables such as type of coffee and brewing methods. Although the authors claim that the excluded variables may not change the overall outcome, it is worthwhile to evaluate all possible variables when dealing with medical experiments, especially those related to examining sensitive body organs and human life.
In conclusion, caffeine is harmful during pregnancy due to its association with adverse impacts on the fetus. Although the study was strong in aspects such as the slight intake of decaffeinated coffee in Denmark and that only 2% of Denmark’s population take instant coffee, critical information on the coffee consumption habits and nausea history were missing. Besides, the failure to assess all the variables with significant effects on coffee consumption limited the reliability and accuracy of this study’s findings, undermining generalization. Therefore, future studies on this topic can focus on coffee’s caffeine versus non-caffeine effects and how coffee types and brewing methods affect pregnancies. Besides, there is a need for creating awareness of the harmful consequences of coffee consumption during pregnancy.
- Bech BH, Nohr EA, Vaeth M, Henriksen TB, Olsen J. Coffee, and fetal death: a cohort study with prospective data. American journal of epidemiology. 2005 Nov 15;162(10):983-90.
- Zappettini S, Faivre E, Ghestem A, Carrier S, Buée L, Blum D, Esclapez M, Bernard C. Caffeine consumption during pregnancy accelerates the development of cognitive deficits in offspring in a model of tauopathy. [Internet]. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience. 2019 Oct [Cited 2021 Nov 1]. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2019.00438/full
- Crozier SR, Inskip HM, Godfrey KM, Cooper C, Robinson SM, SWS Study Group. Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: Effects on food intake and diet quality. [Internet]. Maternal & child nutrition. 2017 Oct [Cited 2021 Nov 1]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5400073/
- Rashed AB, Ismail NA, Elsayed AI. Effects of Caffeine Restriction on Fetal, Neonatal and Pregnancy Outcomes. [Cited 2021 Nov 1]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341991086_Effects_of_Caffeine_Restriction_on_Fetal_Neonatal_and_Pregnancy_Outcomes
- Radišić Biljak V, Honović L, Matica J, Krešić B, Šimić Vojak S. The role of laboratory testing in detection and classification of chronic kidney disease: national recommendations. [Internet]. Biochemia Medica. 2017 Feb. [Cited 2021 Nov 1]. Available from: https://hrcak.srce.hr/176485