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Caffeine and Pregnancy

According to a study that’s just been released, pregnant women who consume over 200 mg of caffeine per day have TWICE the risk of miscarriage than women who consume no caffeine at all. Two hundred milligrams of caffeine is roughly the amount that’s found in just two cups of coffee.

The problem with caffeine is that it can be easily absorbed into the placenta and transferred to the still-developing fetus, which can’t metabolize the substance. Throw in the potential for caffeine to influence fetal cell development and decrease critical blood flow to the nourishing placenta and … well, if more pregnant women knew about these facts, they’d probably stay as far away from caffeine as they would from rat poison.

The fact that only 200 mgs can have such a devastating effect on a pregnancy is big — and scary — news. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn’t yet have a recommended caffeine limit for pregnant women.

The study also found that the source of the caffeine DID NOT MATTER. Those potentially damaging 200 mg can come from coffee, tea, soft drinks, hot chocolate, candy bars … any place where caffeine is found. Unfortunately, most people have the misconception that most caffeine comes from beverages — but that’s incredibly far from the truth. Any man who’s seen his pregnant wife indulge in a couple of helpings of chocolate ice cream during a first-trimester craving is sure to shudder at this.

When so little caffeine has been found to increase the potential risks of a pregnancy so significantly, it makes you wonder why any expecting mother would play around with consuming any caffeine at all. I was surprised to read that one obstetrician reviewed the findings of the study and concurred that there’s “a definitive correlation between caffeine consumption and miscarriage”—and yet stated only that pregnant women should “significantly decrease” the intake of caffeine.

“Cutting down” doesn’t cut it. If I were you, I’d tell my daughter or granddaughter to lay off the caffeine altogether while she’s pregnant. Better safe than sorry.