Pregnant women are advised to limit their daily caffeine intake to 200mg - but not many actually know what that looks like in practice. This is leading to expectant mums to over-consume caffeine, which is linked to miscarriage, low birth-weight and foetal growth restriction, according to Tommy’s pregnancy charity.
In a poll of 4,100 pregnant women conducted by the charity, 61% said they would reduce their caffeine consumption habits after being made aware of how much caffeine there is in daily items.
“There is evidence that excessive caffeine intake is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage,” said Professor Arri Coomarasamy, clinical director of Tommy’s National Miscarriage Research Centre. “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.”
Since 2008 the Food Safety Authority (FSA) has recommended that pregnant women keep their caffeine intake to under 200mg a day. Caffeine is found in tea and coffee, cola, other soft beverages such as energy drinks and chocolate.
That’s not to say chocolate, coffee and tea is out the window when pregnant, it’s more about being aware of how much caffeine you’re consuming. Sophie King, a 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.
“We recommend pregnant women to 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.”
Tommy’s has an online caffeine calculator for pregnant women to check their consumption.
200mg is equal to...
:: Two mugs of tea (350ml) a day - 75mg each
:: One mug of filter coffee - 140mg
:: Two mugs of instant coffee - 100mg each
:: Five cans of cola - 40mg each
:: Eight plain chocolate bars (50g) - 25mg each (FYI milk chocolate has less caffeine than dark chocolate)
:: Two energy drinks (250ml) - 80mg each
So, in one day, you will almost reach your 200mg limit of caffeine if you have two mugs of tea and a can of coke; or a mug of instant coffee and a 250ml energy drink.
It’s worth noting that the amount of caffeine in coffees bought in high-street chains can be a lot higher. For example, a latte from Starbucks (size venti) with semi-skimmed milk contains 225mg of caffeine. If you’re unsure, ask before you order.
If you’re worried about your caffeine consumption, speak to your midwife.