High Energy Drinks and Breastfeeding

11.30.2010

As Energy drinks gain in popularity, many people, including breastfeeding mothers, are questioning their safety.

The high caffeine content in these drinks can be a concern for breastfed infants.    While caffeine, when used in moderation, is generally considered safe for most breastfeeding mothers, some infants can be very sensitive to it.  Signs and symptoms of caffeine stimulation in a baby include rapid heart rate, fussiness, and insomnia.  While it is true that caffeine may be used clinically in preterm infants to treat neonatal apnea, these babies are closely monitored for adverse effects. 

Caffeine has a long half-life in infants and can transfer to some degree in milk.  As infants get older, they can metabolize caffeine more efficiently and the half- life of the drug is decreased.  The half-life of caffeine in a newborn is approximately 120 hours and decreases to 14 hours at 3-5 months of age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics considers it safe to consume small amounts of caffeine while breastfeeding.  However, it is recommended for women to limit their daily consumption to less than three cups of coffee per day.   Even this may be too much for some infants and mothers simply need to watch their individual infants for side effects and act accordingly. This will help prevent irritability and difficulty sleeping as seen in some infants.

Caffeine should be used with extreme caution by mothers breastfeeding infants known to have pre-existing arrhythmias, increased QT interval, and gastroesophageal reflux.  The symptoms can be exacerbated by caffeine.

The following is a list of commonly used energy drinks and their caffeine content.   We have included one alcohol/caffeinated drink, Four Loko, that has been commonly used, although certainly not recommended for use in pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.  Four Loko has chosen to remove caffeine from its alcoholic beverages.  For a more complete list of caffeinated drinks on the market go to http://www.energyfiend.com/the-caffeine-database

The caffeine content was obtained from the product label and/or the manufacturers website.