What should you do about your morning cappuccino when you’re pregnant? Well, based on the outcome of many studies, you should think about switching to a decaf beverage during pregnancy.  

Research shows that the caffeine you drink passes through the placenta and can be active in the foetus for up to 100 hours (versus 10 hours in mum), due to the baby’s immature detoxification system.  

A very recent study, published in 2018, looked at the health effects of coffee by examining the results of multiple studies; they found that whilst caffeine intake is associated with multiple health benefits in adults (although it impacts on hydration, cortisol and blood sugar regulation might outweigh those benefits), for pregnancy it is associated with increased risk of harm – most particularly an increase in the risk of miscarriage (1). The risk increases with the amount of caffeine consumed, and other studies have shown that the increase in risk starts with caffeine intake as low as 1 shot of espresso (60-75mg). 

There have also been studies showing an association between caffeine, low birth weight and increased heart and breathing rate in babies in the first few days after birth. As such, the World Health Organization recommend lowering caffeine intake during pregnancy (particularly those with a high caffeine intake of over 300mg per day) (2). 

So, if you are pregnant or are trying for a baby, it might be best to switch to decaf or herbal tea. And keep an eye on caffeine hiding in other beverages and foods, including breakfast tea, fizzy drinks chocolate! 

References 

  1. Doepker, C., Franke, K., Myers, E., Goldberger, J.J., Lieberman, H.R., O’Brien, C., Peck, J., Tenenbein, M., Weaver, C., Wikoff, D. 2018. Key Findings and Implications of a Recent Systematic Review of the Potential Adverse Effects of Caffeine Consumption in Healthy Adults, Pregnant Women, Adolescents, and Children. Nutrients, 10 (10), e1536 
  2. World Health Organization. 2019. Restricting caffeine intake during pregnancy. Available at: https://www.who.int/elena/titles/caffeine-pregnancy/en/ (Accessed: 31st January 2020)

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