Green Tea and Birth Defects
March 20, 2008 6:01pm CST
I remember reading blips in magazines that green tea was harmful to the developing fetus while I was pregnant with my first baby. Unsure whether this was true or not, I simply stopped drinking it until after my son was born. When I became pregnant with my daughter, I asked my doctor, who didn't know if it was dangerous or not, so again, no green tea until after the baby was born. Now I am really curious if anyone knows if green tea is harmul while pregnant or if it causes any brith defects. I've heard that it can cause spianl bifida, but have there been any real cases of it? I know as a general rule of thumb, you're supposed to stay away from herbs and many natural remedies while pregnant, but this whole green tea thing really came as a shock to me, as I have a cup everyday. Any insight would be much appreciated!
20 Mar 08
Herbal teas are naturally caffeine free, so caffeine is not an issue when consuming this type of tea. The concern with consuming herbal teas during pregnancy is the lack of data available on most herbs and their effect on a developing fetus. There are mixed opinions on the safety of herbal teas, for both pregnant and non-pregnant women. Many of the herbs used for teas, when taken in large or medicinal amounts, can potentially stimulate the uterus and induce miscarriage. These include anise, catnip, chamomile, comfrey, ephedra (called ma huang in traditional Chinese medicine), European mistletoe, hibiscus, horehound, Labrador, lemongrass, licorice root, mugwort, pennyroyal, raspberry leaf, rosemary, sage, sassafras, stinging nettle leaf, vetiver, and yarrow. Some doctors are concerned that green tea may affect the body's folic acid (also called folate) levels. Folic acid is an important nutrient during pregnancy. One study linked neural tube defects in babies, such as spina bifida, to women drinking a large amount of green tea at around the time of conception. Spina bifida is a serious condition, which occurs when the tube around the central nervous system - the neural tube - fails to close completely. Neural tube defects such as spina bifida are usually associated with folic acid deficiency. The data for this study is very weak so it is too soon to say that avoiding green tea during pregnancy will reduce the risk of neural tube defects, but more research is needed. Finally, green tea, like other teas and coffee can also make it difficult for our bodies to absorb iron from food, which is another reason why it should be drunk in moderation.
21 Mar 08
I agree with killahclaire. I think everything that is too much is harmful. There are indeed plants that are made into tea that could induce (premature) labot or cause abortion. As with green tea, I think it has caffeine that is not advisable for pregnants. I use to drink tea every now and then when I was pregnant and I haven't seen any side effect with my baby except difficulty in getting some sleep then.