Caffeine’s Effects on Unborn Babies

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on December 13, 2010 · 0 comments

Americans love caffeine—close to 90% of us consume it. As popular as it is, is caffeine actually safe? Not for everyone, including pregnant women.

Pregnant women should avoid or at least cut back on caffeine, especially if they are heavy users. The March of Dimes and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend no more caffeine than would be found in 1 to 2 cups of regular coffee.

Some studies show no risk of miscarriage or premature labor with reasonable intakes of caffeine.

But one Danish study found the risk for stillbirth increased as caffeine consumption went up, doubling for women who drank 8 or more cups of coffee a day. And a newer study, published in 2008, showed that women who consumed 200 milligrams or more of caffeine daily (2 or more cups of regular coffee or 5 cans of caffeine-containing soda) had twice the risk of miscarriage than women who consumed little or no caffeine.

A recent animal study also showed that low doses of caffeine increased the risk for damage to the developing baby’s heart in early pregnancy. Based on this, many experts recommend less is best when it comes to daily caffeine intake during pregnancy.

Do you know how much caffeine is in…

8 ounces regular coffee? 102 to 200 milligrams

8 ounces regular tea? 40 to 120 milligrams

2 ounces espresso?  60 to 180 milligrams

8 ounces decaffeinated coffee? 3 to 12 milligrams

1 can soda? 23 to 71 milligrams

1 can energy drink? 48 to 500 milligrams.

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