How Caffeine Can Affect an Unborn Baby

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Most doctors suggest limiting caffeine intake during pregnancy, and for good reason. Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the nervous system and crosses the placenta to your unborn baby. Most experts agree that about a cup of coffee's worth of caffeine (100 milligrams) won’t have long-term effects, but it is important to be aware of all possible risks.

An unborn baby doesn't have the ability to metabolize caffeine like an adult can, so it can become stored in the fetal blood stream at very high levels.

The baby may experience higher breathing rates or caffeine withdrawals at birth, as he or she has come accustomed to consuming caffeine in the womb.

Caffeine has effects on the pregnant woman as well, which in turn affects her baby. Caffeine hinders the absorption of calcium in the body, which can cause the baby to have weaker bones. Water consumption is also very important to prenatal health, and drinking coffee or soda instead can lead to dehydration.

Vanderbilt University performed a study that shows 300 mg of caffeine a day may increase a woman's chance of having a miscarriage. High amounts of caffeine can also lead to low birth weight, preterm delivery, and/or birth defects.

While there is no definite answer for "how much is too much," talk to your doctor to discuss your individual prenatal health and to address any concerns you may have.

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