Ask the Doc: How much caffeine can I have during my pregnancy?

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Answered by Errol Norwitz, M.D., Ph.D.  Dr. Norwitz is internationally recognized for his work in high-risk obstetrics.  He is the Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology at TuftsMedicalCenter, a Professor at TuftsUniversitySchool of Medicine in Boston, and an advisor to Bundle Organics. He is board certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Caffeine causes the release of stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine and this may affect blood flow and the amount of oxygen available to the fetus.  Many pregnant women make the wise choice to use decaffeinated beverages and substitute herbal teas for regular teas, but it is a good idea to check with your doctor before doing so.  Green tea and regular tea are healthy for the pregnant woman because they are rich in anti-oxidants and contain less caffeine than coffee.  In addition, more than one cup of coffee a day is not recommended during pregnancy, especially if you prefer drinking strong coffee.

To date, the exact effects of caffeine on pregnancy are unclear.  Some studies have shown that caffeine can deplete the body’s calcium levels.  Other research has indicated that more than five cups of caffeine per day throughout pregnancy may be linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

Some practitioners may be vague in their recommendations; therefore, moderation is always the best choice.  Here is an idea of the amount of caffeine in some popular items. 

Caffeine Amounts in Common Beverages

  • Coffee (1 cup): 120-150 mg
  • Decaf coffee (1 cup): 5 mg
  • Green tea (1 cup):  30 mg
  • Black tea (1 cup): 50 mg
  • Cola soda (1 cup): 30-65 mg
  • Milk chocolate (1 oz):  10mg
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