Caffeine and Pregnancy

shutterstock_71579551Caffeine is one of the most popular stimulants in America, which makes caffeine and pregnancy related concerns common too.  If you are pregnant, you might need to reduce your daily intake of your favorite drinks and treats containing caffeine.

Caffeine and Pregnancy: A look at the Facts

Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic.

As a stimulant, caffeine tends to increases a person’s blood pressure and heart rate. Both of these effects should generally be avoided during pregnancy. Caffeine also tends to increase the frequency of urination thus causing a decrease in body fluid levels resulting in possible dehydration.

Caffeine crosses the placenta to the baby.

Although you might be able to safely process your own intake of caffeine, your baby does not have the same ability because its metabolism is still maturing. Even a small amount of caffeine can cause changes in your baby’s sleep pattern or normal movement pattern in the later stages of pregnancy. Remember, because caffeine is a stimulant, it can keep both you and your baby awake.

Caffeine is in more than coffee.

Caffeine is not only found in coffee but also in tea, soda, chocolate, and some over-the-counter medications. So be aware of what is in your food and the beverages that you consume.

Does caffeine cause birth defects

Caffeine and Pregnancy: Fact or Myth?

You have a love affair with coffee or some other caffeinated beverage and you want to know if you need to give it up while you are pregnant.  There are some health care providers who will encourage you to give it up altogether while others will give you an alright for limited consumption.

Caffeine causes birth defects in humans.

Facts: Numerous studies on animals have shown that caffeine can cause birth defects, preterm delivery, reduced fertility, and increase the risk of low birth weight and other reproductive disorders. Although studies on humans are inconclusive at this time, it is better to play it safe when it comes to the health of your baby.

Caffeine causes infertility.

Facts: Some studies have shown a link between high levels of caffeine consumption and delayed conception.

Caffeine causes miscarriages.

Facts: In 2008, two studies on the effects of caffeine related to miscarriage showed significantly different outcomes.  One study released by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that women who consume 200mg or more of caffeine daily are twice as likely to have a miscarriage as those who do not consume any caffeine.

Another study released by Epidemiology showed no increased risk in women who drank a minimal amount of coffee daily ( between 200-350mg per day.)

Due to conflicting conclusions from numerous studies, the March of Dimes states that until the results of more conclusive studies are available, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day.  This is the equivalent of about one 12 oz cup of coffee.

A pregnant woman should not consume ANY caffeine.

Facts: Experts have stated that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy.  The definition of moderate can vary from 150 mg – 300 mg a day.

Pregnancy and Caffeine: Caffeine amounts in common drinks & snacks?

  • Starbucks Grande Coffee (16 oz) 400 mg
  • Starbucks House Blend Coffee (16 oz) 259 mg
  • Dr. Pepper (12 oz) 37 mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Diet Coke (32 oz) 124 mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Coca-Cola (32 oz) 92 mg
  • Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Buzz Ice Cream (8 oz) 72 mg
  • Baker’s chocolate (1 oz) 26 mg
  • Green tea (6 oz) 40 mg
  • Black tea (6 oz) 45 mg
  • Excedrin (per capsule) 65mg

Pregnancy and Caffeine: How much caffeine is too much?

Many experts say that the less caffeine you consume, the better. Others say more than 150 mg of caffeine a day is too much, while others say more than 300 mg a day is exessive. Avoiding caffeine as much as possible is your safest course of action. If you can’t resist caffeine, it is best to discuss details with your health care provider.

Last Updated: 03/2014

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Organization of Teratology Information Services, http://www.otispregnancy.org/

Williams Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 8.

March of Dimes, http://www.marchofdimes.com/

Maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage: A prospective cohort study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 198 (3), e1-8.. Weng, X., Odouli, R. & Li, D.K. (2008).

Caffeine and miscarriage risk. Epidemiology, 19 (1), 55-62. Savitz, D.A., Chan, R.L., Herring, A.H. & Hartmann, K.E. (2008).