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: Why is caffeine bad for you when your pregnant
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Caffeine During Pregnancy: How Much is Safe?
Consuming caffeine during pregnancy has often been debated by medical professionals concerning the risks it imposes on the developing fetus.
Caffeine is a drug and it does have real physiological effects on those that consume it and these effects are passed on to the unborn child through the placenta.
However, the question that exists is to what extent does caffeine consumed during pregnancy become harmful?
There are several hypotheses related to the possible dangers caffeine may have on the fetus. Let’s take a look at those and the research that either supports the danger or refutes it.
Caffeine During Pregnancy Causes Miscarriage
Many OBGYNs tell mothers to abstain from all caffeine during pregnancy because it increases their risk of miscarriage.
There are several studies that have shown evidence for an increased risk of miscarriage or early stillbirth delivery among pregnant women who consumed more than moderate amounts of caffeine.
- A 2002 study showed that women who drank 8 or more coffees (>800 mg) were at greater risk for early stillbirth. src.
- Another study showed that expectant mothers consuming 600 mg of caffeine or more had a greater risk of miscarriage. why is caffeine bad for you when your pregnant California study showed that pregnant women consuming greater than 300 mg of caffeine daily had a greater risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. src.
- A 2008 study showed that those consuming 200 mg of caffeine or more daily doubled their risk of miscarriage. src.
- A 2016 study showed that both women and men who consume at least two caffeinated beverages daily in the weeks prior to conception are at greater risk for potential miscarriage. src.
Caffeine Restricts the Growth of the Fetus
There is also a belief that caffeine stunts the growth of children and unborn babies. While there isn’t evidence that it stunts the growth of children, there are some studies that support this notion for developing fetuses.
- A 2008 study showed that pregnant women who consumed 100 mg or more of caffeine had an increased risk of fetal growth restriction. src.
- 2013 research showed that women who consumed caffeine had an increased risk of delivering babies with lower birth weight. src.
- A 2018 study of over 900 Irish mothers showed an association between caffeine intake (both coffee and tea) and adverse birth outcomes such as lower birth weight and smaller head circumference. src.
Caffeine During Pregnancy Produces Hyperactive Children
Some doctors may tell expectant mothers that caffeine during pregnancy leads to ADHD or hyperactivity disorder. However, the research conducted with this hypothesis doesn’t support this belief. Children that were exposed to caffeine in the womb were at no greater risk of developing ADHD or hyperactivity than children who weren’t. src.
However, a 2021 study analyzed brain scans of 9 and 10-year-olds and found that those exposed to caffeine in utero had marked changes in brain structure. Researchers believe this could lead to behavioral difficulties later in the child’s life. src.
Caffeine Causes Early Delivery
Some people believe why is caffeine bad for you when your pregnant mothers who drink caffeine while pregnant will increase their chances of having a preterm delivery.
- A 2012 Norwegian study showed no link between caffeine consumption and early preterm birth. src.
- A 2010 American Society for Nutrition analysis of published research found no evidence that caffeine consumption leads to preterm delivery. src.
Coffee Linked to Childhood Leukemia
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed evidence of increased risk of childhood leukemia in infants whose mothers drank more than 2 cups of coffee a day.
They found that pregnant women who drank…
- Some coffee resulted in a 20% increased risk for their child.
- More than 2 cups of coffee (about 300 mg of caffeine) resulted in a 60% increased risk for their child.
- 4 or more cups (about 600 mg of caffeine) resulted in citi simplicity online bill pay 72% increased risk of leukemia.
It is believed that caffeine alters the fetal DNA making the baby more prone to developing leukemia.
Caffeine Linked to Possible Liver Disease in Offspring
This study wasn’t a human study but a study conducted on rats. However, the study showed that when pregnant rats were given moderate to large doses of caffeine, their babies were more likely to develop liver disease later in their life cycle.
More research is needed but the study’s authors think that expectant mothers should avoid caffeine while pregnant. The full study is published in the Journal of Endocrinology.
Caffeine, Pregnancy, and Childhood Obesity
Another study linked caffeine consumption by pregnant mothers with an increased risk of childhood obesity.
The 15-year-long research study published in The International Journal of Obesity found that children born to mothers who did not give up their caffeine consumption during pregnancy were 89% more likely to become obese compared with children who were not exposed to caffeine in-utero.
The results were also dose-dependent, in that the more caffeine the expectant mother consumed the greater the risk of her child becoming obese.
The researchers believe this occurs because…
Brain functions have increasingly been shown to have an important role in regulating appetite and other metabolic processes. Caffeine, a neural stimulant, can alter fetal brain development impacting normal neural transmission vital to normal brain function, thus metabolic processes.
And, another study conducted in Norway also found that pregnant women who consumed caffeine amounts greater than 50 mg per day had an association with a higher risk of having a child with excess growth and obesity during the first 8 years of their child’s life. This study is published in the British Medical Journal.
How Much Caffeine While Pregnant is Safe?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that 200 mg or less a day is probably safe for the developing fetus and The World Health Organization recommends that expectant mothers consume no more than 300 mg per day.
The European Food Safety Authority released its research regarding caffeine safety. They concluded that there isn’t enough evidence that 200 mg of caffeine or less poses any risk to the unborn child.
Also, research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital also found that there was no evidence that moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy had any negative implications for the baby’s long-term cognitive and behavioral development. In the study, they analyzed the caffeine levels of blood samples taken from pregnant mothers between 1959 and 1974 and then compared the data to the children’s IQ and behavioral records.
Other websites like MomLovesBest.com also report 200 mg or less as being a safe amount of caffeine while pregnant.
While most of the research above does point to increased risks associated with caffeine greater than 200-300 mg, there are some studies that show some risk with even lower daily amounts of caffeine. A 2020 study showed that no amount of caffeine is safe after reviewing all the available research to date. This study was published in the British Medical Journal.
When it comes to women consuming caffeine while pregnant, it may be wise to err on the side of caution and abstain from most or all caffeine.
- Wisborg, K., Kesmodel, Who is lily from at&t ads, Bech, B. H., Hedegaard, M., & Henriksen, T. B. (2003). Maternal consumption of coffee during pregnancy and stillbirth and infant death in first year of life: prospective study. Bmj, 326(7386), 420.
- Weathersbee, P. S., Olsen, L. K., & Lodge, J. R. (1977). Caffeine and pregnancy. A retrospective survey. Postgraduate medicine, 62(3), 64-69.
- Fenster, L., Eskenazi, B., Windham, G. C., & Swan, S. H. (1991). Caffeine consumption during pregnancy and spontaneous abortion. Epidemiology, 168-174.
- Weng, X., Odouli, R., & Li, D. K. (2008). Maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage: a prospective cohort study. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 198(3), 279-e1.
- Olsen, J., & Bech, B. H. (2008). Caffeine intake during pregnancy. BMJ, 337.
- Sengpiel, V., Elind, E., Bacelis, J., Nilsson, S., Grove, J., Myhre, R. . & Brantsæter, A. L. (2013). Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with birth weight but not with gestational length: results from a large prospective observational cohort study. BMC medicine, 11(1), 42.
- Linnet, K. M., Wisborg, K., Secher, N. J., Hove Thomsen, P., Obel, C., Dalsgaard, S., & Henriksen, T. B. (2009). Coffee consumption during pregnancy and the risk of hyperkinetic disorder and ADHD: a prospective cohort study. Acta Paediatrica, 98(1), 173-179.
- Maslova, E., Bhattacharya, S., Lin, S. W., & Michels, K. B. (2010). Caffeine consumption during pregnancy and risk of preterm birth: a meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 92(5), 1120-1132.
- Cheng, J., Su, H., Zhu, R., Wang, X., Peng, M., Song, J., & Fan, D. (2014). Maternal coffee consumption during pregnancy and risk of childhood acute leukemia: a metaanalysis. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, why is caffeine bad for you when your pregnant, 151-e1.
- Li, D. K., Ferber, J. R., & Odouli, R. (2014). Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and risk of obesity in offspring: a prospective cohort study. International Journal of Obesity.
- Klebanoff, M. A., & Keim, S. A. (2015). Maternal Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy and Child Cognition and Behavior at 4 and 7 Years of Age. American Journal of Epidemiology, kwv136.
- Papadopoulou E, Botton J, Brantsæter A, et al Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy and childhood growth and overweight: results from a large Norwegian prospective observational cohort study BMJ Open 2018;8:e018895. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018895
- Chen, L. W., Fitzgerald, R., Murrin, C. M., Mehegan, J., Kelleher, C. C., Phillips, C. M., & Lifeways Cross Generation Cohort Study. (2018). Associations of maternal caffeine intake with birth outcomes: results from the Lifeways Cross Generation Cohort Study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 108(6), 1301-1308.
Any advice posted on our website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace any medical advice. Caffeine Informer makes no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the information offered through the website. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.
Written by Ted Kallmyer, last updated on November 2, 2021
Can I Still Drink Coffee While I'm Pregnant?
I love why is caffeine bad for you when your pregnant morning wake-me-up coffee. But I'm pregnant — can I still have my morning cup of coffee?
Check with your doctor about having caffeine during your pregnancy. One cup of coffee is usually OK, but it's best to not have more than that. It's hard to know exactly how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee. The total can depend on things like the brand of coffee and the size of the cup.
Studies show that getting more than 150–200 milligrams (about 1–2 cups of coffee) of caffeine a day during pregnancy may not be healthy. High amounts of caffeine during pregnancy has been linked to problems with a baby's growth and development.
To help you cut back on caffeine:
- First, limit coffee to one or two cups a day.
- Start mixing decaffeinated coffee with regular coffee.
- Then, stop drinking the caffeinated coffee.
Don't forget that caffeine also can be in:
- other foods and drinks, such as tea, chocolate, and energy drinks
- some medicines
Caffeine during pregnancy
High caffeine levels are also associated with increased blood pressure, heart rate and may cause dehydration.
Foods and drinks containing caffeine include:
- soft drinks (cola, fizzy orange, fizzy lemonade)
- energy drinks
- some herbal teas like green tea
You don't need to cut caffeine out completely, but you should limit how much you have to no more than 200mg a day.
Try decaffeinated tea and coffee, fruit juice or water. Limit the amount of energy drinks you have, as they can be high in caffeine.
When ordering coffee in a café or restaurant, caffeine levels can vary from 80mg to 300mg per cup.
Here is a guide on the estimated amount of caffeine in common drink and snack options:
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Study: Drinking Caffeine While Pregnant Worse For Kids Than Once Thought
Can you consume that cup of joe during pregnancy? New research suggests that it may be better not to — in an unfortunate bit of news that probably nobody wants to hear.
There can be a lot of conflicting and confusing advice about the safety of caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Some research suggests that a small amount each day is OK, while other research points to erring on the side of caution and abstaining from any and all caffeine intake. But new findings from the University of Rochester Medical Center are now suggesting that going cold turkey from coffees, caffeinated teas, and energy drinks may be an important step towards preventing behavioral problems in kids later in life. The study says that drinking caffeine in utero may affect some crucial brain pathways in the fetus which could ultimately lead to behavioral issues.
According to John Foxe, the principal investigator of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study and director of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, “These are sort of small effects and jan tarrant photos not causing horrendous psychiatric conditions, but it is causing minimal but noticeable behavioral issues that should make why is caffeine bad for you when your pregnant consider long term effects of caffeine intake during pregnancy.” Foxe added, “I suppose the outcome of this study will be a recommendation that any caffeine during pregnancy is probably not such a good idea,” as per EurekAlert!. In the statement, it does sound a little bit like he’s hesitant to be the bearer of bad news, which we totally get — coffee is king. But the research should at least be considered for moms who are trying to get pregnant. The research did not point to an overwhelming change in kids’ brains, but it did find symptoms of attention difficulties, behavioral issues, and hyperactivity in the kids studied.
Researchers analyzed brain scans from 9,000 nine and ten-year-olds and found changes in the white matter tracks which form connections among different regions of the brain in the children whose mothers said that they consumed caffeine during pregnancy. And although the study relied on mothers’ reported caffeine intake, which could be less reliable than measuring their actual consumption during pregnancy, the findings offer a potentially intriguing insight into how drinking coffee may alter kids’ behavior and brains as they develop.
Zachary Christensen, the home remedy for pink eye in humans of the paper published in the journal Neuropharmacology and a M.D./Ph.D. candidate in navy federal no fee atm near me school’s Medical Science Training Program said, “What makes this unique is that we have a biological pathway that looks different when you consume caffeine through pregnancy.” Christensen continued, “Previous studies have shown that children perform differently on IQ tests, or they have different psychopathology, but that could also be related to demographics, so it’s hard to parse that out until you have illinois central railroad like a biomarker.”
So if you’re planning on getting pregnant or are currently pregnant, it could be time to cut down or cut out caffeine altogether. This new research, while it does rely on self-reported caffeine intake, which is a bit of a weakness, but should give some parents pause when it comes to picking up that morning coffee. “This gives us a place to start future research to try to learn exactly when the change is occurring in the brain,” says Christensen.
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"These are sort of small effects and it's not causing horrendous psychiatric conditions, but it is causing minimal but noticeable behavioral issues that should make us consider long term effects of caffeine intake during pregnancy," said John Foxe, Ph.D., director of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, and principal investigator of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development or ABCD Study at the University of Rochester. "I suppose the outcome of this study will be a recommendation that any caffeine during pregnancy is probably not such a good idea."
Elevated behavioral issues, attention difficulties, and hyperactivity are all symptoms that researchers observed in these children. "What makes this unique is that we have a biological pathway that looks different when you consume caffeine through pregnancy," said Zachary Christensen, a M.D/Ph.D. candidate in the Medical Science Training Program and first author on the paper published in the journal Neuropharmacology. "Previous studies have shown that children perform differently on IQ tests, or they have different psychopathology, but that could also be related to demographics, so it's hard to parse that out until you have something like a biomarker. This gives us a place to start future research to try to learn exactly when the change is occurring in the brain."
Investigators analyzed brain scans of more than 9,000 nine and ten-year-old participants in the ABCD study. They found clear changes in how the white matter tracks -- which form connections between brain regions -- were organized in children whose mothers reported they consumed caffeine during pregnancy.
URMC is one of 21-sites across the country collecting data for the ABCD study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Ed Freedman, Ph.D., is the principal investigator of the ABCD study in Rochester and a co-author of the study.
"It is important to point out this is a retrospective study," said Foxe. "We are relying on mothers to remember how much caffeine they took in while they were pregnant."
Previous studies have found caffeine can have a negative effect on pregnancy. It is also known that a fetus does not have the enzyme necessary to breakdown caffeine when it crosses the placenta. This new study reveals that caffeine could also leave a lasting impact on neurodevelopment.
The researchers point out that it is unclear if the impact of the caffeine on the fetal brain varies from one trimester to the next, or when during gestation these structural changes occur.
"Current clinical guidelines already suggest limiting caffeine intake during pregnancy -- no more than two normal cups of coffee a day," Christensen said. "In the long term, we hope to develop better guidance for mothers, but in why is caffeine bad for you when your pregnant meantime, they should ask their doctor as concerns arise."
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Materials provided by University of Rochester Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
- Zachary P. Christensen, Edward G. Freedman, John J. Foxe. Caffeine exposure in utero is associated with structural brain alterations and deleterious neurocognitive outcomes in 9–10 year old children. Neuropharmacology, 2021; 186: 108479 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2021.108479
Cite This Page:
University of Rochester Medical Center. "Brain changed by caffeine in utero: New research finds caffeine consumed during pregnancy can change important brain pathways in baby." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 February 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210208125335.htm>.
University of Rochester Medical Center. (2021, February 8). Brain changed by caffeine in utero: New research finds caffeine consumed during pregnancy can change important brain pathways in baby. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210208125335.htm
University of Rochester Medical Center. "Brain changed by caffeine in utero: New research finds caffeine consumed during pregnancy can change important brain pathways in baby." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210208125335.htm (accessed November 29, 2021).