Learn about the risk of having too much caffeine during pregnancy.
Caffeine is a natural alkaloid found mainly in coffee but it can be found naturally in a variety of leaves, fruits and seeds. Naturally, caffeine is a pesticide that kills insects and protects plants from their attack. Caffeine is the most consumed psyhcoactive drug but it is legal and unregulated everywhere in the world. Also, the Federal and Drug Administration (FDA) considers caffeine as a “generally recognized as safe'(GRAS) food substance.
The main source of caffeine is coffee beans. Dark roasted beans have less caffeine that light roasted varieties since roasting have a deleterious effect on caffeine. Caffeine is found also in other stimulant beverages such as yerba mate and guarana, two products normally consumed in South America that are gaining popularity to Europe and the United States.
Caffeine is a stimulant. Also has diuretic properties. Too much caffeine has significant effects on the nervous system causing edginess, nervousness, insomnia, tachycardia, high blood pressure. It can also cause frequent urination that if not compensated can cause dehydration. Caffeine also stimulates acid production in the stomach which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as gastritis, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and pectic ulcer.
Is Caffeine Harmful During Pregnancy?
Caffeine can affect the flow of blood to the placenta. The caffeine ingested by the mother can reach the baby through her placenta and affects the baby’s sleep and movement patterns. It has been documented that babies from mothers that took too much caffeine while pregnant had increased heart rates and slept less during their first few days of life.
The Food authority of the United Kingdom (UK Food Standards Agency) recommends to pregnant women to limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg of caffeine per day, which is roughly equivalent to 2 cups of instant coffee (or half to 2 cups of fresh coffee).
There are some studies showing an increased risk of miscarriage with women who ingested too much coffee during the day. In fact and according to a study reported by Kaiser Permanente, women who had 200 mg or more of caffeine per day had twice the miscarriage risk when compared to women who consumed no caffeine
Caffeine amounts in certain foods:
Hot cocoa 8 oz. 3-13 mg
Green tea 8 oz. 30-50 mg
Black tea 8 oz. 40-120 mg
Cola 12 oz. 35-38 mg
Instant coffee 8 oz. 27-173 mg
Brewed coffee 8 oz. 102-200 mg
U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. U.S. Office of the Federal Register. 2003-04-01. p. 462. http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2003/aprqtr/21cfr182.1180.htm.
Food Standards Agency publishes new caffeine advice for pregnant women
Kaiser Permanente Study Shows Newer, Stronger Evidence that Heavy Caffeine During Pregnancy Increases Miscarriage Risk