Coffee raises fetal death rate -- study

Nov. 15, 2005 at 4:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Drinking more than three cups of coffee daily when pregnant increases the risk of fetal death, says a Danish study released Tuesday.

Women who drink that much coffee per day have an increased risk of delivering stillborn babies compared to women who don't drink coffee during pregnancy, say Danish researchers in the Nov. 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Researchers at the University of Aarhus reviewed records of 88,482 women who had been interviewed about coffee, tea, cola and alcohol consumption, as well as smoking and other possible risk factors when they were four months pregnant. There were 1,102 fetal deaths in the group.

After adjusting for all the risk factors, the researchers found that women who drank one-half to three cups of coffee a day had a 3-percent increased risk of fetal death, compared to 33 percent for those who drank four to seven cups a day and 59 percent for women who consumed eight cups or more.

The link was strongest for fetal deaths that took place after the fifth month of pregnancy, researchers said.

Because they found no link between fetal death and tea or cola consumption, the scientists speculated that caffeine might not be the compound responsible and suggested that further studies target the chemical compounds in coffee to determine why it has such a powerful effect on the unborn.

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