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title pic Is Caffeine So Bad?

Posted by Claudia Grazioso on February 13, 2012

Is Caffeine So Bad?

When I found out I was pregnant, I was very worried about how I would function throughout the day without coffee. After all, I was a three-cup-a-day and — “what, you’re making a Starbucks run? Sure, I’d love a latte!” — kind of girl. It turns out that my morning sickness helped me go cold turkey. The smell of coffee made me so nauseous I really thought I would never ever want to drink it again. I switched my passion to Earl Grey tea, and if I had caffeine withdrawal, I was too busy fighting to keep the pre-natal vitamins down to notice. One day I mentioned to my mom how sick the smell of coffee made me, and she said that happened to her too.

“So I just had to switch to espresso,” she told me.

Espresso? My mom drank espresso through her pregnancies and somehow still had functioning children? It made me wonder: Just how bad is caffeine for pregnant for women?

As it turns out, it’s not horrible… but there could be some complications, and if you can avoid them, why not? First, you should realize that you might be able to handle caffeine, but it does cross the placenta, and your baby’s system is still developing. He or she might not be as well-equipped to metabolize caffeine as a grown adult. And more food for thought: Studies on animals have revealed that exposure to caffeine can cause premature delivery, birth defects and low birth weight in animal offspring. Though several studies on the link between caffeine and miscarriage have conflicting results, one study did find a higher rate of still birth in women who consumed 8 or more cups of coffee a day. Though the causal link to caffeine in that study wasn’t firmly established — eight or more? I am a coffee lover, and I get the jitters even thinking about it.

So what to do? Most doctors recommend that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to 200 mg a day. Know how much caffeine is in your regular drinks and lower it if need be. Caffeine levels vary wildly. For instance, a regular Starbuck’s coffee has over 250 mg of caffeine, whereas black tea has under 50. Also, if you’re breast-feeding, limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine does cross over into breast milk, and who needs a wired baby? Think about switching to tea, and if you can’t give up coffee, consider going “half-caf.”

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