If you’re a woman who is considering having a baby, you may already know some of the steps to prepare your body for pregnancy, such as quitting smoking, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and taking folic acid. These steps can increase your chances of having a healthy baby.
But did you know that you should also limit your caffeine intake in food and beverages, even before you become pregnant? What’s perhaps even more surprising is that your partner should limit his caffeine intake as well.
NIH Study on Caffeine
A study by the National Institutes of Health and Ohio State University, Columbus, found that a woman has a higher risk of miscarrying if she and her partner drink beverages with more than 200 mg of caffeine per day in the weeks before conception.
In addition, women also are more likely to miscarry if they drink more than 200 mg of caffeinated beverages a day during the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Because women may not be aware that they are pregnant in those early weeks, it’s important to reduce caffeine once you’ve decided you would like to get pregnant.
The Many Forms of Caffeine
When you consider sources of caffeine, keep in mind there’s more to count than just coffee. Teas, sodas (both colas and some non-colas), pain relievers, energy drinks and even “energized” foods can contain caffeine. Some of these products contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers the following guide for the amount of caffeine found in typical beverages and foods:
Average Milligrams of Caffeine in Food and Beverages
- Coffee - 8 oz, brewed, drip - 137
- Coffee - 8 oz, instant - 76
- Tea - 8 oz, brewed - 48
- Tea - 8 oz, instant - 26 to 36
- Caffeinated soft drinks - 12 oz - 37
- Hot cocoa - 12 oz - 8 to 12
- Chocolate milk - 8 oz - 5 to 8
- Dark chocolate - 1.45 oz - 30
- Milk chocolate - 1.55 oz - 11
- Semi-sweet chocolate - ¼ c - 26 to 28
- Chocolate syrup - 1 tbsp - 3
- Coffee ice cream - ½ cup - 2
Multivitamins Can Help Reduce Risk
The NIH study did provide some good news: Women who took a daily multivitamin before becoming pregnant had a 55 percent reduction in the risk of miscarriage. Those who took the vitamins during early pregnancy saw a risk reduction of 79 percent. Taking Vitamin B6 and folic acid also can reduce the risk of miscarriage. Folic acid also is recommended before and during pregnancy to reduce the risk of a child being born with a neural tube defect.
Bottom line—if you and your partner are planning to start or expand your family, the caffeine that both of you take can affect the health of your baby.
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