Attention Moms-to-Be: No need to put down your cup of Joe!

By Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 8/18/10

New moms and pregnant women who can't imagine a morning without their cup of coffee can breathe a sigh of relief-new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are the latest from a number of women's health organizations that continue to support science-based conclusions that moderate levels of caffeine consumed by women of childbearing age, including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, are safe for both mom and baby. 

Caffeine Intake Recommendations
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently published anew opinion which states that moderate caffeine intake (less than 200 milligrams (mg) per day, or about one 12-ounce cup of coffee per day) does not increase a pregnant woman's risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.  This is consistent with the March of Dimes recommendation for pregnant women to limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg/day. The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) states in informational resources on their Website that moderate amounts of up to 300 mg/day of caffeine do not increase risk of miscarriage. The International Food Information Council's Review on caffeine and health also states that up to 300 mg/day of caffeine is safe for the general population, including pregnant women.

Caffeine Levels in Foods & Beverages
You may be wondering what 200-300 mg of caffeine looks like in terms of the amount found in common caffeine-containing foods and beverages.  The table below can serve as a guide when accounting for your total daily caffeine intake. Keep in mind that the serving size may vary, as well as the amount of caffeine per serving, depending on the brand, brewing method, etc. For information about the amount of caffeine in a specific product, check the manufacturer's website.

Caffeine in Foods & Beverages (mg)
Item Typical Range
Coffee, brewed (8 oz) 85 65-120
Coffee, espresso (1 oz) 40 30-50
Tea, brewed* (8 oz) 40 20-90
Cola soft drink (12 oz) 40 30-60
Energy drinks (250 ml, 8.3 oz) 80 50-160
Baker's chocolate (1 oz) 
26 26
Cocoa beverage (8 oz) 6 3-32
Chocolate milk (8 oz) 
5 2-7
Milk chocolate (1 oz) 6 1-15

      * Major U.S. Brands 
Source: IFIC Review, Caffeine & Health: Clarifying the Controversies, 2008

Bottom Line
Daily consumption of up to 300 mg/day (approximately two to three 8-ounce cups of coffee) has not been shown to have adverse effects on pregnancy and can be enjoyed safely as part of a healthful diet during pregnancy.  However, it is wise for pregnant women to monitor their caffeine consumption and talk to their OB/GYN or physician about consuming caffeine during pregnancy, as individual sensitivities may vary.

If you are interested in learning more, visit our Fact Sheet on Caffeine and Women's Health