The dangers of hidden caffeine for mums-to-be
A recent survey by BabyCentre UK found that 80% of parents don’t pay attention to how much caffeine they are consuming. Excessive caffeine consumption can harm a baby during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
As Caffeine Awareness Month gets underway, the leading UK parenting and pregnancy resource highlighted the issue amid concerns that a favourite frothy coffee could push pregnant and breastfeeding women over the recommended safe limit.
BabyCentre also warned that with the rise in consumption of energy drinks these could be a danger to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Prime energy drinks which have already launched in the US and are due to hit UK stores next month carry a warning that they are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women because of the high caffeine content.
Pregnant women are advised to stick to 200mg of caffeine a day because drinking too much can cause babies to have a low birth weight or be born premature. There’s also a small risk of miscarriage and in some cases, stillbirth.
But barista coffees can be as high as 325mg for a medium cappuccino or large latte, more than one-and-a-half times the maximum limit for pregnant and breastfeeding women. And coffee shops aren’t obliged to display caffeine content on their menus so you could be unaware of just how much your cappuccino contains.
While nine out of 10 women are aware of the 200mg a day caffeine limit, they usually guesstimate the amount of caffeine in products such as coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks, according to BabyCentre’s own research.
Sarah Redshaw, UK Managing Editor for BabyCentre, said: “With energy drinks becoming more and more popular we wanted to highlight their caffeine strength to pregnant and breastfeeding women and ask them to keep a look at labels. But we also wanted to make them aware that coffees from your favourite high street shop can be as strong, if not stronger.
“For some high street chains you can search for the caffeine content online, but it’s not well-advertised or easily found. Most women will guesstimate caffeine content, we suspect because they don’t even know if that information is available. And it’s made more complicated by the fact that the strength of coffee varies so much by outlet.
“When it’s so important for pregnant and breastfeeding women to stick to caffeine limits this information should be much more available and prominent, especially when some drinks significantly exceed the safe daily limit.”
250ml can of Red Bull – 80mg
355 ml can or Prime Energy – 200mg
500ml can of Relentless – 160mg
Costa – 325mg
Greggs – 197mg
Pret – 180mg
Caffe Nero – 110-115mg
Starbucks – 66mg
Pret – 180mg
Costa – 100mg
Greggs – 75mg
Caffe Nero – 45mg