Could your daily cup of joe endanger your baby?

November 29, 2011 6:06 PM by

Many Americans have gotten used to drinking a morning cup of coffee to build up enough energy to get through the day. And, if you're a professed caffeine-lover, you may even brew several cups a day. Now that you're pregnant, it's likely you're wondering if you need to change your beverage routine.

A common question on the minds of expectant moms is, "Can caffeine cause birth defects?" According to several animal studies, yes. Although definitive research on humans does not yet exist, it may be better to play it safe and avoid consuming large amounts of caffeine. Some experts have found that high caffeine intake can increase the likelihood of several pregnancy concerns, including miscarriages, preterm labor and low birth weight.

Unfortunately, there is a significant amount of conflicting findings regarding this concern. A 2008 study published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that consuming 200 milligrams of caffeine a day could double the chances that pregnant women will miscarry. In order to provide a scale for this amount, the American Pregnancy Association notes that a 16-ounce Starbucks Grande Coffee has 400 milligrams of caffeine. On the other hand, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently reported that 200 milligrams won't lead to any complications.

The source of all this debate is that caffeine can permeate the placenta and reach the baby. The safest course of action is to eliminate your caffeine intake or reduce it as much as you possibly can. For example, you can trade in your morning cup of coffee for a cup of green tea. As you work to maintain a healthy diet for your baby, keep in mind that certain varieties of tea, soda and chocolate carry moderate levels of caffeine.  

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