Most of us have grown accustomed to the smell of coffee in the morning. It wakes us up, provides a ritual, and even has social implications once we get to know our local barista. However the question often arises as to how much caffeine, if any, is safe in pregnancy and whether caffeine has any links to infertility.
Caffeine is the main concern, not just the coffee bean. Caffeine can be found in many different foods, such as chocolate, tea, coffee, and can be added to foods and drinks (think “Red Bull”) and headache medicine or weight loss pills. It is thought that 90% of Americans consume caffeine daily.
Researchers have found associations between caffeine and certain disease states: anxiety attacks, cancer, heart attacks, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, sleep disorders, stroke, fibrocystic breast disease, and MISCARRIAGE, INFERTILITY, AND SPERM abnormalities. These associations do not prove that caffeine is the causative agent for disease, but there is a link.
Scientific studies continue to debate the amount of caffeine that is safe. A 1990 study at Yale showed that the risk of infertility was 55% higher for women who drink 1 cup of coffee a day, and 176% higher if they drank over 3 cups a day. Three studies (Infant-Rivard 1993, Wang 2008 and Savitz 2008) showed more than 300 mg of caffeine a day increased the risk of miscarriage (possibly doubling the risk).
So while we may not have the full story on caffeine and fertility risks, it is safe to say that most medical organizations recommend less than 200-300 mg of caffeine daily when trying to conceive or when pregnant.
Here’s a list of the estimated caffeine levels in common sources:
- Coffee, brewed 100-200mg
- Espresso 1 oz 30-90 mg
- Tea 8 oz 40-120 mg
- Soda 12 oz 22-72 mg
- Energy drinks 16 oz 80-260 mg
- Chocolate 1.5 oz 9-31 mg
*Many thanks to: Lipari, Sheri, LVN. Caffeine, conception, and pregnancy: how much is too much? Walgreen Clinical Update Vol 3 Issue 5