Pregnancy and Caffeine

New recommendations say pregnant women should think twice before consuming their morning cup of java


 

Is it safe to consume caffeine when you are pregnant? A recent (February 2013) study from Norway suggests the answer may be no, especially if you are drinking coffee.

The study found that coffee consumption (but not overall caffeine intake) was linked to slightly longer pregnancies, and caffeine consumption was linked to decreased body weight and a higher risk of a “small for gestational age” baby. These effects were seen even at low levels of caffeine intake.

 

Why is that a problem? A baby who is born unusually small has not been getting the necessary nutrients during the pregnancy, and may have health problems or developmental problems after birth.

The current recommendations for pregnant women are to consume less than 200 mg/day of caffeine, but this study suggests that might be too high. A single cup of instant coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine, but stopping by the coffee shop can quickly boost your levels higher: a  a grande cup of Starbucks coffee can contain 330 mg of caffeine.

What can you do? Consider switching to decaffeinated coffee, or perhaps trying tea instead. Many herbal teas are caffeine-free. A cup of black tea has between 15 and 60 mg of caffeine; green tea has 20 to 40 mg.

Also be aware of other sources of caffeine such as soft drinks and chocolate. A can of Coca-Cola has 35 mg; a can of Mountain Dew has 55 mg. A cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips will give you 100 mg of caffeine (and a whole lot of sugar as well!)

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