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How much caffeine is okay?

Many expectant moms are unsure about whether or not they can continue enjoying a morning coffee or afternoon latte.

Caffeine is a stimulant that readily crosses the placenta. Studies have found a small, but statistically significant, increase in low birth-weight babies and even miscarriage in pregnant women who consumed more than 150 mg of caffeine per day.

But, in smaller doses, caffeine consumption is safe, according to Motherisk (a research program that provides information on the safety of drugs and exposures during pregnancy and lactation, at the Hospital For Sick Children, in Toronto).

Wondering what to sip and what to avoid? Here are some answers to your top caffeine-related questions.

QUESTION: I’ve heard caffeine is unsafe during pregnancy. Is that true?

ANSWER: Caffeine is safe in moderation. According to Motherisk, expectant mothers should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 150 mg per day.

QUESTION: What does 150 mg of caffeine work out to?

ANSWER: 150 mg of caffeine works out to approximately one of the following:

• One 8-oz cup of brewed or instant coffee*

• One 16-oz coffeehouse vanilla latte*

• One to two 8-oz cups of black tea* • Two 1-oz coffeehouse espressos*

• Six 6-oz cups of green tea*

• 12 8-oz cups of brewed or instant decaffeinated coffee*

QUESTION: Do I need to be on the lookout for “hidden” sources of caffeine?

ANSWER: Yes. If you’re not careful, you could easily exceed the recommended daily caffeine limit.

• Soft drinks like cola, root beer, and iced tea* pack between 7 and 76mg of caffeine per 12-ounce serving (355 mL can).

• Milk chocolate and dark chocolate* contain about 9 and 31 mg of caffeine per bar, respectively.

• Coffee flavoured ice cream* delivers 50 to 60 mg caffeine per 8-oz serving.

• Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medications* can carry anywhere from 64 to 130 mg caffeine per two-tablet dose.

Talk to your Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist if you have any questions about finding a caffeine-free OTC pain relief product, or have concerns about caffeine levels in any medications you are taking.

*Note: Actual caffeine counts will vary by product, so always refer to product packaging or ask the restaurant for precise caffeine content figures.