Should a baby bump stand in your way of enjoying a daily cup of coffee?
Pregnancy is a mixture of joy, anticipation, and a long list of do’s and don’ts for many women. This list often involves food, beverages and medications that are deemed harmful to the unborn child – some proven, others not. While many doctors would advise pregnant women to avoid alcohol due to evidence that heavy drinking can cause birth defects, their views on other drinks such as coffee are less consistent.
It was once thought that pregnant women should avoid drinks with high caffeine content such as coffee, soda and energy drinks because it was shown in some studies that this may increase the risk of miscarriage. However, this changed in 2010 when the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a position statement that says moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200mg a day) does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth.
“The relationship of caffeine and growth restriction remains undetermined,” says the ACOG, who reaffirmed their statement last year.
One of the reasons why caffeine raises concerns is its ability to cross the placenta and reach the baby. “Although you may be able to handle the amounts of caffeine you feed your body, your baby cannot,” says the American Pregnancy Association in their web page on caffeine intake during pregnancy. “Your baby’s metabolism is still maturing and cannot fully metabolise the caffeine,” the association says.
Although caffeine is most commonly associated with coffee, there are other drinks and foods that contain caffeine, including sodas, energy drinks, tea, chocolate, and other foods that contain these ingredients. The caffeine content may differ – an 8-ounce (237ml) cup of instant coffee contains up to 100mg of caffeine, while the same amount of brewed or filtered coffee can contain up to 140mg and 200mg of caffeine (see table).
Teas and sodas generally have less caffeine content, but these can add up. Some of these beverages also have decaffeinated options, but many of these options contain at least 1% to 2% of their original caffeine content.
Safety In Moderation
Besides its enticing aroma and taste, the benefits to drinking coffee range from the boost of energy it gives to the various nutrients it contains. When taken in moderation, caffeine can improve performance in tasks that involve working memory and reaction time. It could also facilitate learning in classes, where information is presented in a passive manner.