Ask any mom or dad and they’ll tell you parenthood is all about sacrifice. After baby arrives, careers get put on pause, sleep goes out the window, and stain-free sweatpants become a luxury. But at least the conception part is an enjoyable time where couples can be a bit selfish. Or is it? To successfully make a baby and carry him to full term, there are a number of precautions hopeful parents-to-be are told to take. For example, experts suggest that women give up booze and increase their folate intake while men are advised to ditch their skinny jeans and tighty whities. Sure, that last tip may be a bit of a bummer for 'Risky Business’ fans, but none of these precautions are all that annoying. However, there’s another daily luxury that scientists are saying should be thrown out the window for the sake of baby—and you’re not going to like it.
According to a new National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University study, both sexes should cut back on caffeine while trying to get pregnant. Why? Because as strange as it may seem, a couple’s collective preconception caffeine intake is strongly associated with their odds of pregnancy loss. The more they consume, the higher their risk. And this isn’t news to be taken lightly. The report is one of the most detailed studies to date to look at the connection between caffeine intake and pregnancy loss, and one of the first to show how a man's dietary habits also affect a couple’s fertility.
To draw this conclusion, researchers had 501 couples who were trying to conceive write down every caffeinated beverage they consumed during preconception, as well as the first seven weeks of their pregnancy. Out of the 344 couples who ultimately became pregnant, 98—or about 28 percent—ended in miscarriage. After reviewing the drink data, researchers found that women who had more than two 8-ounce caffeinated drinks per day while trying to conceive had a 74 percent higher risk of miscarriage than women who consumed fewer caffeinated beverages. But here’s the real kicker: Even when the ladies limited their caffeine intake, if their significant other had consumed more than two caffeinated drinks per day during the baby-making phase, these women had about the same increased risk of miscarriage as they would if they had consumed it themselves. Yikes.
Though scientists have yet to confirm their suspicions as to why, they speculate that caffeine somehow affects egg or sperm production, implantation of the fertilized egg, or the ability of the embryo to grow in the uterus.
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During the study, the researchers found that women who took a daily multivitamin before getting pregnant and those who continued taking multivitamins during early pregnancy were 55 percent and 79 percent, respectively, less likely to miscarry—regardless of how much caffeine they drank. Sounds like a great reason to pop a pill to us!