Does caffeine and alcohol intake before pregnancy predict the occurrence of spontaneous abortion?

Hum Reprod. 2003 Dec;18(12):2704-10. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deg480.


Background: Consumption of caffeine and alcohol is suspected to affect pregnancy outcome. Use of both stimulants is widespread and even minor effects on fetal viability are of public health interest.

Methods: We performed a nested case-control study using prospective data from a population-based cohort comprising 11088 women aged 20-29 years. From this cohort, women who experienced either a spontaneous abortion (n = 303) or who gave birth (n = 1381) during follow-up [mean time: 2.1 years (range: 1.6-3.4)] were selected. Associations between self-reported exposures to caffeine and/or alcohol at enrolment and spontaneous abortion were analysed by means of logistic regression.

Results: Compared with women with a pre-pregnancy intake of <75 mg caffeine per day, the adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for spontaneous abortion was 1.26 (0.77-2.06), 1.45 (0.87-2.41), 1.44 (0.87-2.37) and 1.72 (1.00-2.96) for a pre-pregnancy intake on 75-300, 301-500, 501-900 and >900 mg caffeine per day respectively (P = 0.05 for trend). A pre-pregnancy intake of alcohol was not a predictor for spontaneous abortion.

Conclusions: A high intake of caffeine prior to pregnancy seems to be associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion, whereas a low-to-moderate alcohol intake does not influence the risk.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Adult
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage
  • Caffeine / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Odds Ratio
  • Preconception Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies


  • Caffeine
  • Ethanol