Agency issues caffeine advice to pregnant women
Wednesday 10 October 2001
Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to less than the equivalent of four cups of coffee a day, the FSA has warned.
An intake of more than 300mg a day - equivalent to six cups of tea or four cans of energy drink - may be associated with miscarriage, according to the Agency's advice.
The new advice puts a figure for the first time on previous Department of Health guidance for pregnant women to 'moderate' their caffeine consumption.
It follows an independent review which found that caffeine intakes above 300mg a day, or four cups of instant coffee, may be linked with low birth weight as well as miscarriage.
Caffeine, a known stimulant of the central nervous system, occurs naturally in a range of foods such as coffee, tea and chocolate. It is also added to some soft drinks and `energy' drinks such as Red Bull.
FSA deputy chair Suzi Leather said: 'In practice this doesn't mean cutting out coffee completely
but is about taking a sensible precaution and not having more than the equivalent of four cups of coffee a day.
'Of course it's easy to forget that it's not just coffee that contains caffeine, but tea, soft drinks and chocolate too.'' There are other, less common sources of caffeine, including certain
cold and flu remedies, the FSA advice added.
The guidance comes after a review by independent experts, the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT). COT members looked at the effects of caffeine on reproduction and concluded that caffeine intakes above 300mg a day may be associated with low birth weight and, in some cases, miscarriage.
The 300mg caffeine limit is roughly equivalent to:
- four average cups or three average size mugs of instant coffee
- three average cups of brewed coffee
- six average cups of tea
- eight cans of regular cola drinks
- four cans of so-called 'energy' drinks
- 400g or eight standard 50g bars of plain chocolate. Caffeine in milk chocolate is about half that of plain chocolate