Caffeinated beverages do not seem to cause birth defects or preterm labor and delivery in people…but there are other risks. Such as: fetal growth retardation, miscarriage, and low birth weight.
Woman who drink more than 300mg of caffeine are at the highest risk. That would be about three, five ounce cups. Those that both smoke and drink caffeine are at even a higher risk for babies with stunted growth.
Coffee (5 oz. cup) 60-180 mg
Tea (5 oz. steeped 4 minutes) 38-77 mg.
Cocoa (5 oz. cup) 2-20 mg.
Chocolate milk (8 oz.) 2-7 mg.
Cola drinks (Jolt, Mr. Pibb, Mountain Dew, etc.) 36-72 mg.
Non-prescription drugs (Excedrin, Anacin, etc.) 30-65 mg.
Cigarette smoke is full of chemicals. Many of these migrate to the sperm cells when they fertilize the ovum, and then continue to bombard the fetus when the mother smokes or is exposed to tobacco smoke.
Women who smoke are more likely to experience pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes, and premature delivery. The baby born to a smoking woman tends to be lower in birth weight, and more likely to die soon after birth than those who do not smoke.
The damage to the baby can persist into later life. They are at more risk for cancer as an adult, susceptible to middle-ear infections, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and wheezing.
If raised in a household where smoking is allowed children are more likely to develop hypertension, as well as neurological and behavioral problems such as attention deficit disorder. They also tend to score lower in intelligence tests later in life.
Men who smoke have a considerable higher risk of having children with birth defects and childhood cancer. This is probably due to the lowering of vitamin C levels in seminal fluids and sperm. Not even the best of nutrition can make up for the damage done by smoking!
Alcohol freely enters the placenta and directly exposes the developing baby to its toxic effects. It travels in the baby’s blood stream at the same concentration as that of the mother. If mother is “buzzed”, so is the baby!
Some babies born develop a condition called “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome” or FAS. They are shorter in length, lighter in weight, than other babies. They do not “catch up” eve with special postnatal care. They also have abnormally small heads, irregularity in their faces, limb abnormalities, heart defects, and poor coordination. Many are mentally retarded and may develop behavioral problems as they grow up (such as hyperactivity). Another condition, which is similar, is called “Fetal Alcohol Effect” or FAE.
No one knows how much alcohol it would take to damage a baby. Since it causes permanent physical and mental birth defects and no “safe” amount is known, the best bet is to abstain from alcohol.
Be aware of the alcohol that may be in certain foods. Such as: Irish Coffee, wine coolers, rum in fruit cakes, liquor-laced desserts, and cough medicines.