Drinking Coffee during Pregnancy Hampers
Fetal Development

The UK Food Standards Agency has recommended that consumption of coffee during pregnancy should be limited to two small cups of coffee, which equates to less than 200 mg of caffeine per day.

Should consumption of coffee during pregnancy be restricted?

Caffeine in coffee is a potent nervous system stimulant, and so helps maintain our good humor in spite of the stressful routines.

It is the only stimulant drug, freely available in consumer market without any legal restrictions on its consumption; and is as addictive as tobacco and alcohol.

Indeed, that is what it is; and it passes easily through the placenta to the baby.

Is caffeine not being used for treatment of apnoea in newborns?

Yes it is.
Caffeine is a drug and has many beneficial effects when used in right dose for an appropriate cause: “One man’s medicine is other man’s poison”. Naturally so, like any other drug it too has many toxic effects.

How consumption of coffee during pregnancy affect fetus?

Caffeine attains dangerously high levels in the fetus.
The magnitude and the spectrum of its harmful effects on the fetus are the same as that in the adults. Moreover, the fetus does not have adequate capability to break it down as adults can.

Consequently, caffeine not only has a significantly prolonged effect on fetal tissues, but can accumulate in the little unborn baby to dangerous levels.

Studies on the subject show that as little as 2 cups of coffee per day can cause contraction of placental blood vessels and restrict blood flow through the placenta significantly.

As a result, the risk of premature birth, fetal growth retardation and abortion is markedly increased.

Tobacco smoking and coffee during pregnancy: Ill effects add up

The harmful effects of coffee consumption on fetus are further aggravated in presence of concomitant nicotine effect attributable to tobacco smoking during pregnancy.

Coffee Consumption During Pregnancy Hampers Fetal Development

Effects of caffeine on fetus rise significantly when an expecting mother frequently has other caffeine containing foods along with coffee.

Chocolates, tea, many beverages including health drinks in market are also rich source of caffeine.

Coffee consumption hampers nutrition

  • Coffee consumption decreases iron absorption and may contribute to anemia in the mother and poor iron stores in the fetus.

  • Anemia in the mother can even compromise oxygenation in the fetus.

  • Coffee also interferes with calcium absorption.
    Consequently, mother and baby both develop soft bones.
    Women who drink coffee during pregnancy often have severe back pains and their baby may be prone to fracture.

Coffee consumption has harmful effect on mother's blood circulation

Coffee consumption increases the levels of stress hormones in the mother, predisposing her to high blood pressure, increased heart rate and constriction of the blood vessels.

More blood is pumped through the kidneys leading to excessive urine formation and risking dehydration.

Coffee consumption adds to disturbed sleep during pregnancy

Consumption of coffee during pregnancy contributes to disturbed sleep pattern in pregnancy along with all its harmful effects on the fetus.

Decaf Coffee

Decaf coffee nurtures the myth of successful elimination of caffeine from the diet, but it is not.

People drink coffee only for its stimulating effect. Obviously it has to have enough caffeine for it to survive the commercial world.

Effect of caffeine is very much individualised.

Studies show that as low as about 10 milligrams can also produce reliable stimulating effects in sensitive individuals.

Is decaf coffee during pregnancy safe for fetus?

It is not yet precisely clear that how much coffee during pregnancy is safe for optimal fetal development.

Though the higher limit of caffeine intake during pregnancy is laid at 200 milligrams per day, recent studies show that even at that limit the risk of miscarriages is doubled.

The content of caffeine in decaf coffee is found to be highly variable, minimum being 5 milligrams per cup. However, some of the more popular decaf coffee brands are reported to deliver as high as 31 milligrams of caffeine per cup.

Coffee decaffeination process

To dissolve the caffeine out of the coffee beans, all decaffeination processes require soaking the coffee beans in water.

Chemical solvents (methylene chloride or ethyl acetate) or activated carbon are used to extract caffeine from the water in which the beans were soaked.

Usage of ethyl acetate in decaffeination process is commonly coined as the "natural process" just because the substance is found in fruits.

Only the sparkling water decaffeination process does not utilize activated carbon filters. Instead the caffeine is washed from the compressed carbon dioxide with sparkling water in secondary tanks.

However, the beans themselves do not come in direct contact with the chemicals. Nevertheless, some amount of chemicals may get adhered to beans when they are re-soaked in decaffeinated water to reabsorb the flavor of coffee. Even so, both these solvents have a low boiling point and are expected to be cleared fully with re-drying of coffee beans.

The impurities that come along with them are not known to be harmful for human consumption till date.

Processing alters decaf coffee’s composition.
Decaffeination can neither remove all of the caffeine from the coffee beans, nor can the natural flavor be retained in its entirety.

The original flavour of coffee beans is preserved to its maximum with Swiss Water Process. Nevertheless, activated carbon filters are used in this process as well.

For related pages kindly see the right column.

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Fetus: Growth Stages and Viability

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