British Coffee Association - Pregnancy
Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Experts, such as the Food Standards Agency, the Centre for Pregnancy Nutrition and the Royal College of Midwives, are agreed that women can drink coffee in moderation, two to three cups per day, during pregnancy or while breast-feeding. The Royal College of Midwives state that, ‘There is no definitive evidence to show that caffeine in moderation has any adverse impact during pregnancy’.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), in November 2008, revised guidelines that advise pregnant women to limit their intake of caffeine from 300mg per day to 200mg per day. This roughly equates to about two mugs of instant coffee (100mg each), one mug of filter coffee (140mg each), two mugs of tea (75mg each), five cans of cola (up to 40mg each), two cans of ‘energy’ drink (up to 80mg each) or four (50g) bars of plain chocolate (up to 50 mg each). Caffeine in milk chocolate is about half that of plain chocolate 1.

Happy pregnant woman with friend enjoying a coffee

One well-designed intervention study, carried out in Denmark in 2007, found that restricting the caffeine intake of over 600 pregnant women, who were regular coffee drinkers, to two cups of coffee per day, had no effect on the length of gestation and birth weight2. A 2014 meta-analysis concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support further reductions in the maximum recommended intake of caffeine, but maintenance of current recommendations is a wise precaution3.

In January 2008 two studies were published looking at maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy. The first concluded “There is little indication of possible harmful effects of caffeine on miscarriage risk within the range of coffee and caffeine consumption reported” 4. The second however, observed an increased risk of miscarriage with consumption of caffeine of 200mg per day or greater 5.

A review published in 2014 suggested that the risk of acute childhood leukaemia increased with increasing coffee consumption. However, the authors cautioned that the number of studies was limited and further research would be required to draw firm conclusions. It is also difficult to draw conclusions as the study lacked reliable consumption data6.

The British Coffee Association welcomes new research and highlights that it is important to review all the available data rather than taking one study in isolation. The BCA fully supports the advice given by the FSA, which provides clear guidance for pregnant women and confirms that coffee consumed in moderation can contribute to a healthy, balanced diet.

Caffeine is found naturally in tea, coffee and chocolate, and is added to cola drinks, some energy drinks and some over the counter medicines such a cold remedies. All sources should be considered when reviewing total daily caffeine intake.

Summary

Current guidelines issued by the Food Standards Agency are intended to reassure pregnant women that they may consume up to 200mg of caffeine a day – this equates to two to three cups of coffee. These guidelines are endorsed by the Royal College of Midwives and the Centre for Pregnancy Nutrition.

There is no conclusive evidence to date to suggest that this level of caffeine represents a health risk to expectant mothers or their babies 5,7,8,9.

 

References

1. Food Standards Agency Guidance on Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy 2008. www.food.gov.uk
2. Jahanfar S. et al. (2009) Effects of restricted caffeine intake by mother on fetal, neonatal and pregnancy outcome. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews, 15; (2): CD006965.
3. Greenwood D.C. et al. (2014) Caffeine intake during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. European Journal of Epidemiology, published online ahead of print
4. Savitz D A. Epidemiology; Volume 19, January 2008.
5. Weng X et al. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2008.
6. Cheng J. et al. (2014) Maternal coffee consumption during pregnancy and risk of childhood acute leukemia: a meta-analysis. AJOG, 210(2):151.e1-151.e10
7. Pollack A.Z. et al. Caffeine consumption and miscarriage: a prospective cohort study. Fertility and Sterility, 2010; 93:304-6.
8. Peck J.D. et al. A review of the epidemiologic evidence concerning the reproductive health effects of caffeine consumption: a 2000-2009 update. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2010; 48(10):2549-76.
9. Committee on Obstetric Practice. Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010; 116: 467-8.