Why caffeine is considered a "drug" during pregnancy? -
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Why caffeine is considered a “drug” during pregnancy?

Why caffeine is considered a “drug” during pregnancy?

by: Dr. Surinder Kaur Gambhir
Sr. Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynecology Paras Bliss, Panchkula

Caffeine is prevalent in chocolates, drinks like sodas, coffee etc. and it should be limited. Expecting females should limit their caffeine intake during pregnancy as it can cause low birth weight if baby and irritability if caffeine is taken in large quantity. If caffeine is taken in moderation then it is acceptable and does not harm the fetus. If drugs are taken in larger amount during pregnancy or during childbearing age it indirectly or directly affects the fetus.

How does caffeine affect the fetus/ pregnancy?

Caffeine crosses the placenta and goes into fetal circulation if it appears in breast milk. Caffeine intake through coffee of more than 450 ml daily can increase the breast milk iron concentrations and thus results in mild iron deficiency anemia in breastfeeding infants.

As compared to the nonpregnant woman, the pregnant woman has slow caffeine metabolism of 1.5 to 3.5 times longer time required to eliminate the caffeine from the body. Caffeine is found in placenta, amniotic fluid, urine, umbilical cord and plasma of fetus which clearly indicates the transmission of caffeine across the placenta. The placenta supplies food and oxygen to the baby through umbilical cord in the uterus (womb). Caffeine intake cause low birth weight baby as the liver of fetus is immature and produces lower levels of enzymes which are essential for the metabolism of caffeine and hence leaving neonates to have low birth weight.

Moderation of caffeine intake is key:

Studies say that moderate intake of caffeine during pregnancy does not cause any major risk of miscarriage or preterm birth. Caffeine increases your heart rate and blood pressure slightly and also the amount of urine. But during pregnancy it takes more time to get eliminated from your body. The caffeine that you are taking from morning till evening adds up throughout the day. If you are having cup of coffee in morning then you should limit your caffeine intake for rest of the day.

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