Caffeine and pregnancy: tea could also harm the fetus

According to a researcher at an Irish university, pregnant women should be careful not to drink too much tea, as it also contains caffeine, which is harmful to the development of the fetus.

While reducing or even eliminating coffee is a known precaution for many pregnant women, tea consumption is generally less controlled. Yet, as Ling-Wei Chen, a researcher at University College Dublin (Ireland), points out, tea also contains caffeine, which can potentially harm fetal development when it is present in excess.

In a scientific study published last October, the researcher and his team investigated whether there was a link between maternal caffeine consumption and the birth of the baby when tea was the main source of caffeine. Because it is often said that theine, or caffeine from tea, does not have quite the same effects and properties as that contained in coffee.

Using data from some 941 Irish women, 48% of whom had tea as their main source of caffeine, the researchers found that the fact that caffeine comes from tea or coffee did not significantly change the harm it causes to the fetus when consumed in excess. Babies born to women who consumed high levels of tea during pregnancy were at greater risk of having an abnormally low birth weight or being born prematurely. In other words, the fact that most caffeine comes from tea has not changed the harm caused by excessive consumption during pregnancy.

But should we simply cross the caffeine in tea and coffee during pregnancy? According to Ling-Wei Chen, the most important thing would be to reduce and limit its consumption.

The World Health Organization recommends that pregnant women should not exceed 300 mg of caffeine per day from any source. But since there are about 100 mg per cup of coffee and about 33 mg per cup of tea, the total can quickly increase. More severe, the American College of Gynecology and Obstetrics recommends that pregnant women should not exceed 200 mg of caffeine per day.

In the absence of more reassuring studies, and in the name of the precautionary principle, the Irish scientist therefore recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake as much as possible.

For example, you could drink green tea, which is less rich in caffeine, rather than black tea, or even choose a drink made from rooibos, a South African shrub that is free of caffeine. It should be noted that other plants, foods and beverages contain caffeine: this is the case for Coca-Cola, mate, Redbull, chocolate and pure cocoa.

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