Coffee and Pregnancy: Attitudes, Consumption and Maternal Vascular Function

  • Siofra Flannery-McDermott

    Student thesis: Unknown


    Since the introduction of coffee to Europe in the early 17th century its popularity has steadily increased and, water apart, is the most widely consumed beverage globally. Being derived from a plant, a cup of coffee represents a complex mixture of naturally occurring chemicals such as caffeine, coffee oils and chlorogenic acid. As the popularity for coffee has grown so too has the interest surrounding its possible biological and pharmacological effects. A small number of studies suggest potential risks and benefits associated with coffee consumption in pregnancy; however these have yet to provide definitive conclusions. Furthermore government advice does not directly address coffee intake during pregnancy and there is no information regarding womens' and midwives' views and opinions on this increasingly important issue. This was a mixed-method research study, with both a qualitative and quantitative components. Firstly, I aimed to gain insight into womens' and midwives' views and opinions on coffee consumption during pregnancy. Informed written consent was obtained from women attending the hospital for their antenatal care. These women were of varying gestational age, ethnic background, socioeconomic status and age. Informed written consent was also obtained from midwives from varying disciplines and experience levels; those from academia, research and practicing midwives included. I recruited twenty participants in each group. Information and perspectives were gathered through semi-structured face-to-face or telephone interviews. Interviews were analysed with the Framework method of analysis. The second quantitative arm of my study investigated the effect of specific coffee chemicals on placental and myometrial vascular function. Human chorionic plate arteries, isolated from placental biopsies, and maternal myometrial arteries isolated from myometrial biopsies, were assessed by wire myography. Contraction and relaxation were determined to incremental doses of caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine. The antioxidative properties of these chemicals were also assessed in response to application of reactive oxygen species.My findings indicated that women and midwives' were unsure of the information surrounding coffee consumption. Pregnant women and midwives' discussed the provision of information, sources of information and supplementing information. Findings also indicated that the relationship between health care professional and pregnant women can influence willingness to accept information and womens' level of pregnancy stress. My laboratory studies indicated that the active coffee chemicals did not significantly impact on placental or myometrial arterial function. The chemicals investigated did not elicit any significant protective antioxidative effects. Combining methods allowed for a more comprehensive primary study to be completed. My literature search indicated that there was a clear gap in the knowledge surrounding coffee and its consumption during pregnancy. There is a clear lack of evidence-based information accessible to women regarding consumption. Midwives feel ill-equipped to provide women with information on coffee but err on the side of caution with their advice. Laboratory studies indicate that the coffee chemicals investigated did not induce an effect and cast doubts on the potential antioxidative effects that have been previously quoted in the literature.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorMark Wareing (Supervisor) & Tina Lavender (Supervisor)


    • Coffee
    • Pregnancy

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