Caffeine during pregnancy: How much is too much?

Gotta have your morning pick-me-up? Go ahead and enjoy that steaming cup of coffee, but be careful! A small cafe latte in Starbucks contains 240mg of caffeine, meaning a pregnant woman would exceed the recommended daily caffeine intake (200 mg) in one drink.

Pregnant women will be warned this week to limit their caffeine consumption to 200mg, the equivalent of two average-sized mugs of coffee a day, or risk giving birth to underweight babies. The amount has been lowered from the previous recommended caffeine limit of 300mg.

Remember that caffeine comes in other forms too! The 200mg limit is equivalent to four cups of tea, five cans of cola, three energy drinks or five bars of chocolate.

The advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) comes a week after scientists found that a weekly glass of wine during pregnancy could help boost a baby’s behavior and vocabulary. Caffeine, however, is linked to low birth weight and miscarriages. The research, to be published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday, found that women with a caffeine intake of more than 200mg a day were more likely to give birth to smaller babies.

“If you’re small for gestational age, you’re more likely to have intellectual impairment and hyperactivity in later life.” Other research has found that drinking more than 200mg of coffee a day also doubled the risk of miscarriage.

The first 12 weeks of pregnancy is the most crucial time for the baby, when most miscarriages occur. Therefor Pat O’Brien, consultant obstetrician and spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommends that women abstain from caffeine during the first trimester.

Source: The Times Online

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