The list of stuff you can’t have while you’re growing a baby is long, tedious and full of awesome stuff like sushi, wine and, until recently, coffee. It’s a sacrifice pregnant ladies make but grumble about, because there really seems like no worse time to experience caffeine withdrawal than during the nine months that your energy is so sapped you feel like a slug-sloth hybrid trudging through a world made of viscous Jell-O.
However, in what could be the best news for pregnant ladies since maternity muumuus went out of style, a new study on caffeine consumption during pregnancy shows that it might not be as awful for you (and your baby) as previously thought.
The study, published in American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at 2,197 mother-child pairs who took part in something called the Collaborative Perinatal Project, which collected data between 1959 and 1974. You may know this era as the one when women smoked and drank alcohol and slurped all that coffee before we really knew we shouldn’t.
Because they grabbed data from a few decades ago, they were able to get a wider range of caffeine intake numbers during pregnancy. They also measured child IQ rates at 4 and 7 years old to try to get a better grasp on what the long-term effects of caffeine on kids could be. What the researchers found is that when it comes to two markers — intelligence and obesity — there don’t really seem to be any.
The most recent study focused on IQ and ultimately found:
“There were no consistent patterns between maternal caffeine ingestion and the development and behavior of those children at those points in their lives.”
One of the researchers went on to say, “Taken as a whole, we consider our results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine or the equivalent to 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day.”
So if you’ve been abstaining from coffee because you’re not sure how it will ultimately affect your child’s cognitive development, this could be a good reason to cut yourself a break if you feel like you need a pick-me-up in the form of delicious java in the middle of the afternoon.
For years women avoided coffee because it was also believed that any amount of it could increase your risk of miscarriage. However, in 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a study that showed that “moderate” caffeine consumption is an unlikely to cause a miscarriage.
The key word in both of these studies? Moderation.
Getting the good news that coffee might not actually be the terrible threat it was once considered to be is great, but it’s not an open invitation to mainline ristretto shots of espresso through an IV that feeds into your neck. Of course, some people’s definition of “moderation” may vary, which is why it’s important to understand that when we say “moderate caffeine consumption,” that’s a quantifiable amount.
Specifically, 200 milligrams. For context, an 8-ounce cup of drip coffee has about 137 milligrams of caffeine, while a cup of tea has 48. By contrast, a 12-ounce soda has 37 milligrams, and a 1-ounce shot of espresso has 64.
So remember, talk to your doctor, moderation is key, and cut yourself a break. Preferably over a steaming-hot cup of coffee.