Q&A with Emily Oster, PhD

Economist, mom, and author Emily Oster, PhD answers your question. Follow us on Instagram to ask your questions!

By Author Emily Oster, PhD

Emily Oster is a Professor of Economics at Brown University. She holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard. Prior to being at Brown she was on the faculty at the University of Chicago Booth School. Oster’s academic work focuses on health economics and statistical methods. This month, she answered all your questions.

Drinking while TTC around ovulation?

Keep it in moderation. Evidence suggests if you drink a lot in this period it can affect the ability to get pregnant.

What’s the deal/data on prenatal vitamins?

By far the most important element of prenatal vitamins is the folic acid. Being deficient in folic acid can lead to birth defects, so it’s important to keep your levels up before pregnancy and during early pregnancy. For some women, anemia is also an issue in pregnancy so iron pills can help. The evidence on the rest of the elements of these supplements is pretty weak (but they won’t hurt you!

Does marijuana affect your fertility?

We don’t really know. It’s really hard to study impacts of marijuana in pregnancy because (until recently) it has been illegal in most places. This means that there is a stigma to reporting usage, so there are a lot of differences in women who report using marijuana and those who do not. This makes it very hard to estimate the impacts on conception (or on anything else). As more places legalize, we may learn more.

What’s the real scoop on drinking wine in early pregnancy?

The best data doesn’t point to risks of occasional drinking in early pregnancy. This means occasional — one to two drinks a week. There’s a lot more to reading these data and coming to this conclusion, but that’s where it ends up.

Can I drink coffee during pregnancy?

Yes! The concern about coffee during pregnancy really stems from a concern about higher rate of miscarriage. But when we look at the data, it doesn’t support that concern at low levels (I’m talking up to 3 or 4 cups a day). For women who drink a lot of coffee (like, more than 5 or 6 cups per day) the evidence on miscarriage is more mixed. This argues for moderation, but definitely not elimination.

Want to read more? Find the full article on Natalist.com