Pregnancy

Caffeine During Pregnancy: Myths, Facts, and Current Research

November 14, 2023

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Medically reviewed by

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women's health
Contents
Contents

Key Points

  • Two major studies offer contradictory findings on the link between high caffeine consumption and miscarriage.
  • Moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200 mg per day) does not appear to significantly impact the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.
  • The effect of caffeine on a baby's in-womb growth is currently unclear.

Pregnancy is a time of significant change, including a closer examination of diet and lifestyle. A common concern is the effect of caffeine intake on pregnancy outcomes.  Speaking with a Registered Dietitian at Fay can help you navigate through understanding these dietary impacts and navigating choices to suit your individual needs.

The Research: Caffeine and Miscarriage

Two extensive studies were conducted to investigate the relationship between caffeine intake and miscarriage. The results were conflicting. The first study saw no association between any level of caffeine consumption and miscarriage risk. However, the second study identified an increased risk with higher levels of caffeine intake, particularly above 200 mg per day. If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant and are concerned about your caffeine intake, consider booking an appointment with a Registered Dietitian at Fay to discuss your dietary habits in more detail.

The Research: Caffeine and Preterm Birth

In addition to miscarriage, research also looked into the possible link between caffeine and preterm birth. Here, the news was reassuring: moderate caffeine consumption did not seem to affect the chances of preterm birth.

The Research: Caffeine and Baby's Growth

Several studies have also explored the potential effect of caffeine on baby's growth in the womb. The evidence here remains inconclusive, indicating a need for further research. Registered Dietitians at Fay can provide personalized advice and guidance as we continue to learn more from ongoing research.

Caffeine Content in Common Drinks and Snacks

To put these findings into perspective, let's look at the caffeine content in some common beverages:

  • Brewed Coffee: A typical 8-ounce serving of brewed coffee can contain between 95 to 165 milligrams of caffeine. The exact amount can vary depending on the type of coffee bean, brewing method, and other factors.
  • Decaf Coffee: An 8-ounce serving of decaffeinated coffee usually contains between 2 to 5 milligrams of caffeine. While it's called "decaf," it's not entirely free of caffeine, but the amount is significantly lower than regular coffee.
  • Espresso: A standard shot of espresso, which is approximately 1 ounce, contains about 47 to 64 milligrams of caffeine. However, caffeine content can vary based on the type of coffee bean and the brewing method.
  • Latte: A typical 8-ounce latte, which usually contains one shot of espresso, has between 63 to 126 milligrams of caffeine. This varies based on the number of espresso shots used and the type of coffee bean.
  • Dr. Pepper: A standard 12-ounce can of Dr. Pepper has around 41 milligrams of caffeine.
  • Coca Cola: A 12-ounce can of regular Coca Cola has about 34 milligrams of caffeine.
  • Diet Coke: Diet Coke has slightly more caffeine than regular Coca Cola, with about 46 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce can.
  • Matcha Latte: An 8-ounce matcha latte typically contains around 70 milligrams of caffeine. This can vary depending on the amount and grade of matcha used.
  • Black Tea: An 8-ounce cup of black tea typically contains between 40 to 70 milligrams of caffeine. The wide range is due to differences in types of black tea and brewing methods.
  • Green Tea: An 8-ounce serving of green tea usually has around 30 to 50 milligrams of caffeine. However, this can vary depending on factors like brewing time and the type of green tea leaves.

Several snacks and food items can contain caffeine, especially those that incorporate chocolate or coffee flavor. Here are a few examples:

  • Chocolate Bars: Caffeine content can vary depending on the type and amount of chocolate used. Dark chocolate contains more caffeine than milk chocolate. An average dark chocolate bar (40 grams) may contain around 30 mg of caffeine.
  • Coffee Flavored Yogurt or Ice Cream: Depending on the brand and the amount of actual coffee used in the product, these could have caffeine levels ranging from 30 to 45 mg per serving.
  • Energy Bars: Some energy bars or protein bars use caffeine for an extra boost. These could range widely in their caffeine content, but some bars could have as much as 50 to 100 mg per bar.
  • Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans: The caffeine content can vary depending on the size of the beans and the thickness of the chocolate coating, but a 28-bean serving generally contains about 336 mg of caffeine.
  • Breakfast Cereals: Some cereals, especially those marketed towards adults, may contain added caffeine. For example, a serving of "Morning Spark" cereal has 110 mg of caffeine.
  • Coffee-Flavored Desserts and Pastries: Desserts like Tiramisu, coffee-flavored cakes, or pastries can contain a variable amount of caffeine depending on how much actual coffee or espresso is used in the recipe.

Please note, the caffeine content in these products can vary greatly depending on the brand, preparation method, and serving size. Always check the product label if you're concerned about the caffeine content.

Moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200 mg per day) doesn't seem to be a significant risk factor for miscarriage or preterm birth. However, the effects of caffeine on a baby's growth in the womb remain uncertain. Until we have more definitive answers, it may be prudent to moderate caffeine intake during pregnancy. For further assistance with dietary concerns during pregnancy, don't hesitate to book an appointment with a Registered Dietitian at Fay.




The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.


Sources

Fay Nutrition has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.


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Gia Eapen, MD

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Dr. Gia Eapen is a skilled Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) physician at Case Western/MetroHealth. A Northwestern University alumna, she pursued her medical degree at the University of Vermont, fostering a deep understanding of women's health and reproductive medicine. She combines her comprehensive knowledge with a dedication to patient-centered care, embodying a commitment to enhancing healthcare standards in her field.

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