Pregnancy and Children

Caffeine and Pregnancy

Pregnancy and Caffiene     Pregnancy and Caffiene

Caffeine consumption during pregnancy is controversial. Some studies say as little as two cups of coffee a day creates a risk factor.

Caffeine and Pregnancy: Introduction

Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep both you and your baby awake.  It increases your blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are not recommended during pregnancy. Caffeine also increases the frequency of urination which in turn can lead to dehydration.

Caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby and your baby's metabolism cannot fully metabolize the caffeine. Any amount of caffeine can also cause changes in your baby's sleep pattern in the later stages of pregnancy. 

The following information, adapted from the websites listed at the bottom of the page, will help you understand more about caffeine and your pregnancy.

Caffeine in Pregnancy

The March of Dimes notes that during pregnancy caffeine passes from you to your unborn child through the placenta. A developing fetus may have higher and more sustained blood levels of caffeine than the mother because of the immature metabolism of the fetus.

Caffeine is not only found in coffee but also in tea, sodas, chocolate, chocolate syrup, hot cocoa and even some over-the-counter medications. Amounts differ greatly from one such source to another. Levels of caffeine typically found in drinks and foods are listed in the following table obtained from the IFIC website (IFIC August 2002).

Coffee (8 fl. oz. Cup)    
Brewed, drip method
85 65 - 120
Brewed, percolator
75 60 - 85
Decaffeinated, brewed
3 2 - 4
Espresso (1 fl. oz. serving)
40 30 - 50
Teas (8 fl. oz. cup)    
40 20 - 90
28 24 - 31
Iced (8 fl. oz. glass)
25 9 - 50
Some soft drinks (8 fl. oz.) 24 20 - 40
"Energy drinks" 80 0 - 80
Cocoa beverage (8 fl. oz.) 6 3 - 32
Chocolate milk beverage (8 fl. oz.) 5 2 - 7
Milk chocolate (1 oz.) 6 1 - 15
Dark chocolate, semi-sweet (1 oz.) 20 5 - 35
Baker’s chocolate (1 oz.) 26 26
Chocolate-flavored syrup (1 fl. oz.) 4 4
For the coffee and tea products, the range varies due to brewing method, plant variety, brand of product, etc.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Soft Drink Association

Caffeine and Breast Feeding

Caffeine can enter the breast milk of nursing mothers.  A cup of coffee is not likely to harm your baby but too much caffeine in a breast feed baby can cause problems such as poor sleeping, nervousness, irritability, and poor feeding.

Additional Information

American Pregnancy: Caffeine during pregnancy
March of Dimes: Caffeine in pregnancy

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