If you just read the title of this post and were like, "Huh??" Why would green tea be off limits? I thought caffeine in moderation was fine during pregnancy." Don't worry. I felt the same way before learning about green tea!
It turns out, green tea during pregnancy is fine, both for its caffeine content and for its catechins (I'll explain shortly), as long as it is consumed -- you guessed it -- in moderation.
Green tea contains caffeine -- approximately 35mg of caffeine in an 8oz cup. To date, studies have found that low to moderate consumption of caffeine daily is safe during pregnancy, does not increase the chance of miscarriage, does not cause birth defects, and does not cause long-term problems for babies or children. (Source: MotherToBaby) Low consumption is equal to up to 200mg of caffeine per day, which is equal to approximately 1-2 cups of coffee. Moderate is up to 300mg/day.
Green tea also contains catechins, which are chemical compounds found naturally in tea. Catechins, according to the researchers and experts at OTIS and MotherToBaby who investigate and report on exposures during pregnancy, can block the absorption of folic acid, which is vital in preventing birth defects. MotherToBaby reports:
Studies have shown that when women are drinking a lot of green tea, they have lower levels of folate in their system. That means there is less folic acid that can cross the placenta and get to the baby, and the baby can thus be at a higher risk for having a NTD [neural tube defect]. This can occur when a pregnant woman is drinking more than three cups of tea per day.
For all you green tea-lovers out there, here's what you need to know about green tea drinking and pregnancy:
- Moderate daily green tea drinking is safe (less than 3 cups per day)
- Taking a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid has been shown to reduce the possible NTD risk in heavy tea drinkers
This information has been brought to you by MotherToBaby, which is a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), and is a suggested resource by many agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you have questions about exposures (medicinal, chemical, food, drink) during pregnancy or breastfeeding, contact an expert at MotherToBaby. You can reach them by phone at 866-626-6847 or by text at 855-999-3525. You can also email or live chat by visiting MotherToBaby.org. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, or connect with all of their resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.