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3 Cups of Coffee During Pregnancy Causes Undescended Testes

Thu, Feb 21, 2008 (Reuters Health) - In a recent study, sons born to women who drank the equivalent of three cups of coffee a day during pregnancy were more likely to have undescended testes at age 2 years.

The testes in male babies usually move from the pelvis into the scrotum shortly before birth, but sometimes this doesn't happen. The condition is termed cryptorchidism.

The current findings, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, come from a study of 7,574 male infants. Persistent cryptorchidism, defined as one or two undescended testicles at birth persisting to at least age 2 years, was present in 101 infants.

The investigators, at the Center for Research on Women's and Children's Health in Berkeley, California looked for any association between persistent cryptorchidism and maternal smoking, alcohol consumption, or caffeine consumption.

The only significant association was with caffeine consumption equivalent to three cups of coffee per day.

Dr. Barbara A. Cohn, one of the researchers, told Reuters Health that there has been increasing interest in cryptorchidism recently "because of the increase in the incidence of testicular cancer, known to be more common among those who were cryptorchid."

Cohn explained that caffeine "appears to interfere with reproduction, increasing the rate of miscarriage, which is more common when there are errors in fetal development." This would fit with the current findings, because "cryptorchidism is a defect of fetal development."