Since 2008 the Food Safety Authority (FSA) has recommended that pregnant women keep their caffeine intake to under 200mg a day, but evidence from Tommy’s, the pregnancy and baby charity, shows that women do not know what 200mg caffeine represents and are over-consuming.
A poll of 4,100 pregnant women conducted by Tommy’s showed that 61 per cent would reduce their caffeine consumption habits after being made aware of how much caffeine there is in daily items.
Babies of pregnant women who consume over 200mg of caffeine per day are at an increased risk of fetal growth restriction which could result in low birth weight and/or miscarriage.
Professor Arri Coomarasamy, Clinical Director of Tommy’s National Miscarriage Research Centre comments, “There is evidence that excessive caffeine intake is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Interestingly, this evidence seems to apply to not just women during pregnancy, but also to men, pre-conception. Although more research is required, most clinicians would recommend couples to restrict their caffeine intake.”
Caffeine is found in tea and coffee, cola, other soft beverages such as energy drinks and chocolate. A mug of tea has around 75mg and a bar of plain chocolate has around 25mg.
Sophie King, Tommy’s midwife, said: “Caffeine consumption can add up so quickly! Two cups of coffee and a bar of chocolate would have enough caffeine to be over the recommended limit while pregnant. Try switching to decaffeinated coffee, herbal teas, fruit juice and water. Don’t worry if you have in the past gone over the 200mg limit but using a caffeine calculator now can help you be more aware of your consumption and to cut down if you need to.”
Clio, a mum expecting her third baby this spring, said: ‘I’ve never been a big caffeine drinker and I assumed that a couple of mugs of tea or coffee each day wouldn’t take me over the caffeine limit in pregnancy. I decided to check on Tommy’s caffeine calculator and I was surprised to see I am going over the recommended limit of 200mg. A mug of tea and a filter coffee takes me just over to 215mg – and a chocolate bar (my current craving) pushes it up even more to 240mg. I had no idea! I’m going to make an effort to stick to one tea or coffee now.’