For many people, a cup of coffee or tea in the morning is a must-have to get going. In fact, as many as 90 percent of the people in the world use caffeine in one form or another, and in the United States 80 percent of adults consume caffeine every day, making caffeine by far the most popular neuroactive substance in the world.

Caffeine is a stimulant and diuretic; too much of it can be harmful in pregnancy. As a stimulant, caffeine increases your blood pressure and heart rate. As a diuretic, it can increase the frequency of urination, which can cause a reduction of body fluid levels and may lead to dehydration. In the most extreme cases, drinking too much caffeine may be associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.

Caffeine also crosses the placenta and enters your baby’s blood supply and system. While a “normal” level of caffeine may be easy for your body to handle, babies cannot properly metabolize caffeine because their systems are still immature.

During pregnancy, it is recommended that caffeine intake should be limited to 200 mg (two five-ounce cups of coffee) each day. Here is a list of caffeine content in common foods and beverages:

Foods & BeveragesMilligrams of Caffeine (Average)
Coffee (8 oz), brewed, drip103
Coffee (8 oz), instant57
Tea (8 oz), brewed30 - 80
Tea (8 oz), instant26 - 36
Caffeinated soft drinks (12 oz)37 - 50
Hot cocoa (12 oz)12
Chocolate milk (8 oz)5 - 8
Candy, dark chocolate (1.45 oz)30
Candy, milk chocolate (1.55 oz)11
Candy, semi-sweet chocolate (1/4 cup)26 - 28
Candy, chocolate syrup (1 tbsp)3
Coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt (1/2 cup)2
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2000.

 

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References

  1. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage: a prospective cohort study.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nutritive Value of Foods.
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Medicines in my Home: Caffeine and Your Body.

Comments

  1. I’m curious to know how much caffeine intake may lead to an increased risk of miscarriage. I’m also curious how they studied that. Yikes.

    Reply
    1. That’s part of the problem, Chelsea. In many of these studies, they asked women who just suffered a miscarriage about many things that may have led to it. Someone who just went through this might be more likely to overestimate something like caffeine intake since they are already biased to try and find a reason as to why this happen. Statistically it is called recall bias, and is why many of those studies aren’t very helpful. We do know, however, that staying under the 200mg mark has not been shown to have a negative effect on miscarriage risk, so you are good to go there (and possibly more than this is safe too, but we just don’t have the data to back that up).

      Reply

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