Pregnant and Exhausted? Reach for Coffee

A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology says moderate caffeine intake during pregnancy does not harm the child’s IQ. To be honest, that affect of caffeine intake during pregnancy had never occurred to me – I had always weighed the options of consuming caffeine against the risk for miscarriage.

The study was done in comparison to one performed between 1959–74 when coffee consumption during pregnancy was much more common.

“Researchers looked at the association between a chemical called paraxanthine, caffeine’s primary metabolite, at two points in pregnancy,” reads an article on “They compared those levels to the child’s IQ and behavior at 4 and 7 years of age.”

The study concluded that it was okay for women to consume moderate amounts of caffeine – 1–2 cups of coffee per day – during pregnancy without risking the child’s IQ or development.

That being said, caffeine can impact other aspects of pregnancy, which is why women should keep daily consumption to 200mg or lower.

“Taken as a whole, we consider our results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine or the equivalent to 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day,” said Dr. Sarah Keim, Sarah Keim, PhD, co-author and principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s.

Caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic

This means your blood pressure and heart rate goes up, two things not recommended during pregnancy. The fact that caffeine is a diuretic means it increases urination, which can lower fluid levels in the body – something else not safe during pregnancy.

Caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby

Even though you can handle moderate caffeine levels, your baby may not be able to handle it. The fetus is still developing and cannot yet properly digest the caffeine.

Caffeine is in more than just coffee

Just because you aren’t a coffee drinker doesn’t mean you aren’t consuming caffeine. The substance is also found in chocolate, tea, soda, and some medications that treat headaches. Read labels and take all of those things in moderation.

Facts about caffeine during pregnancy

As I said earlier, I have always associated caffeine consumption with a risk for miscarriage. There is conflicting data surrounding the subject. Is 2008, two studies showed that women who consumed 200mg of caffeine during pregnancy were twice as likely to suffer a miscarriage. Another study released by Epidemiology said there was zero risk.

There have been numerous studies done on animals that showed birth defects in offspring after the pregnant mother ingested caffeine. There have not, however, been studies performed on humans.

How much caffeine is in your favorite things?

If you love Starbucks, you will be disappointed to learn that its coffee is notoriously high in caffeine content. The following list was published by and updated in July of 2015:

  • Starbucks Grande Coffee (16 oz) 400 mg
  • Starbucks House Blend Coffee (16 oz) 259mg
  • Dr. Pepper (12 oz) 37 mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Diet Coke (32 oz) 124mg
  • 7 Eleven Big Gulp Coca-Cola (32 oz) 92 mg
  • Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Buzz Ice Cream(8 oz) 72 mg
  • Baker’s chocolate (1 oz) 26 mg
  • Green tea (6 oz) 40 mg
  • Black tea (6 oz) 45 mg
  • Excedrin (per capsule) 65mg

The bottom line? If you aren’t sure what’s safe, ask your doctor.

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