A review of the literature relating caffeine consumption by women to their risk of reproductive hazards

Food Chem Toxicol. 2002 Sep;40(9):1271-310. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(02)00092-3.


From this detailed review of the literature, several conclusions can be drawn: (a) An association between caffeine consumption and a reproductive hazard is more likely to be seen in lower-quality studies than in studies that come closer to approximating the ideal. This is especially evident for "lower" birthweight and congenital anomalies. (b) The association between caffeine consumption and spontaneous abortion may well reflect the Stein-Susser epiphenomenon (women with prominent nausea tend to reduce caffeine consumption and nausea appears to be a marker of good implantation, perhaps reflecting a favorable balance of hormones produced by a healthy placenta). (c) The claim that caffeine consumption by women delays conception has not been followed by convincing support. (d) Reproductive hazards associated with cigarette smoking tend to be associated with caffeine/coffee consumption. Sometimes this appears to be a consequence of residual confounding associated with inadequate adjustment for cigarette smoking, which is over-represented among those who drink the most coffee/caffeine. Sometimes this reflects the tendency of women to underreport socially undesirable behaviors (e.g. smoking) while accurately reporting socially neutral behaviors (e.g. coffee and caffeine consumption). Thus, it seems reasonable to conclude that no convincing evidence has been presented to show that caffeine consumption increases the risk of any reproductive adversity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / epidemiology
  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / pathology
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Caffeine / adverse effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction / drug effects*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Caffeine