Study finds caffeine, alcohol good for fetus

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So that wasn’t the headline. No. It was

Basically, Being Pregnant Completely Sucks

That wasn’t it, either, but it might as well have been. The latest hoohah this weekend, this from CNN.com:

A new study has found that pregnant women who consumed more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, equivalent to about two cups of coffee, had twice the risk of miscarriage as the women who consumed no caffeine at all. The findings are published in Monday’s Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The thing is, it’s not clear. This from the Wall Street Journal‘s Melinda Beck:

Yet a study from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in the journal Epidemiology this month, found that drinking more moderate amounts of caffeine didn’t increase a woman’s risk of miscarrying.

But the damage has been done. We American women of childbearing age are already so neurotic that any hint of potential harm to the unborn child sends us into uncontrolled spasms of worry. For years to come, women will recite the weekend’s headlines with wide-eyed certainty. Coffee will be etched in stone on the enormous tableau of Things We Must Not Do While Carrying.

It’s too late for me. I chugged three cups of tea and two cups of decaf per day all throughout my first trimester. The little bugger stuck, and is now certain to be born with a full-on caffeine habit. I would have kept up my alcohol consumption too, but that brings up another factor adding to the 21st century pregnancy paranoia: men. My husband is a freak about my health, and he guilted me into putting away the wine glass for the duration. To be fair, he’s abstaining too. But still.

I ought not be flip. Miscarriage is no joke, of course. In fact, this pregnancy has been a lot more anxious than our first, mainly due to the prevalence of problems among our close friends, many of whom are in their mid to late 30s. According to the WSJ,

Roughly one million pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage every year, according to the National Center on Health Statistics. Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester, and some 60% are thought to be due to a random genetic error in the egg or the sperm or the first crucial cell divisions. No amount of prenatal care or dietary precautions will make a difference in these cases.

With good reason, conception and pregnancy have become a serious business among my set…so serious that sometimes I think we get away from the sheer wonder and joy of bringing a new person into the world.

So on behalf of all anxiety-wracked, alcohol-abstaining, now caffeine-deprived pregnant women out there, I’m issuing fair warning to you scientists revving up for your next big announcement. If you go after my chocolate, I’m coming after you.

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