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Green Tea During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Green tea is one of the popular and healthiest teas around the world. It contains one of the vital polyphenols catechin (epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate and epigallocatechin-3-gallate) which is known to possess many health benefits, including benefits during pregnancy. [1]

Green tea is also packed with essential vitamins and minerals that, in many ways, help pregnant women and the growing baby. In this article, we will discuss how safe is green tea during pregnancy. Take a look.

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Health Benefits Of Green Tea During Pregnancy

1. Reduces risk of diabetes-induced neural defects

The impact of catechins during pregnancy has always been controversial. Some studies say that catechins can increase the risk of neural tube defects in babies by reducing the bioavailability of folate, while others say that it can be helpful in inhibiting the same condition (neural defects) in diabetic mothers.

According to a study, catechin named epigallocatechin gallate in green tea can reduce the rate of neural tube defects in newborns born to diabetic mothers, compared to non-diabetic mothers. The risk can be lowered from 29.5 per cent to 2 per cent. [2]

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2. Affects the brain maturity and development of the foetus

Green tea exposure during the perinatal period can lead to improved neuromotor reflexes and functioning of the autonomic nervous system in newborns. This is because the vital nutrients in green tea have the ability to pass the blood-brain barrier and affect the brain maturity and development of the foetus positively. However, the study is controversial as along with essential nutrients, caffeine can also be passed down to the foetus leading to adverse effects on brain development. [3]

Possible Downsides Of Green Tea During Pregnancy

1. Affect folic acid levels

Consumption of folic acid during pregnancy can benefit mothers to be and foetuses in many ways. One of the biggest health benefits of folic acid is it reduces the risk of spina bifida in babies, a type of neural tube defect. A study has shown that antioxidants in certain herbal teas like green tea can lower the bioavailability of folate in the body. As green tea has the highest amounts of catechins (an antioxidant), it may increase the risk of the condition due to its antifolate properties. [4]

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2. Elevate metal concentrations

Elevated levels of metals during the prenatal period can cause severe health outcomes. According to a study, green tea consumption during pregnancy is linked to high levels of metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and manganese in both the mother and the foetus. This may lead to problems in foetal growth and development and poor neurological outcomes in babies. The study adds that high consumption of green tea during the third trimester can lead to high levels of lead in cord blood compared to non-drinkers. [6]

3. Risk of preterm delivery

According to a study, drinking green tea during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of preterm delivery, compared to drinking other teas like black tea. This is because of the presence of caffeine in green tea, which can readily pass through the placental barrier and reach the foetus causing a decrease in placental blood supply. This can affect the growth of the baby and may contribute to preterm delivery. [7]

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4. Affect absorption of iron

Green tea intake during pregnancy can decrease the absorption of nonheme iron in the body. This could be because of the presence of phenolic compounds such as catechins. As we know the amounts of iron during the pregnancy should be doubled to help maintain the blood supply for both the mother and the baby, a decrease in its absorption capacity can increase the risk of related diseases such as anaemia. [8]

5. Risk of low birth weight

A study mentions that the use of herbal products like green tea, especially during the last two trimesters of pregnancy can increase the risk of low birth weight in newborns. Also, green tea alone or in combination with flax, chamomile or peppermint tea can also cause the same defect. [9]

To Conclude

Green tea has amazing health benefits for healthy adults, however, when it comes to its safety in pregnant women, we might need to rethink the choice. This is because it has more downsides than benefits when consumed during pregnancy.

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Also, the adverse effects of green tea are not the same in all pregnant women.

Therefore, if you are planning to consume or have already started the consumption of herbal products like green tea, consult a medical expert for proper dosage depending on your gestational health.

Why is green tea bad for pregnancy?

Green tea during pregnancy could be bad for some pregnant women. This is because high amounts of catechins in the tea can cause adverse effects like preventing the absorption of folate and iron in the maternal body, increasing the risk of neural birth defects and increasing the risk of preterm delivery.

Which tea is good for pregnancy?

According to a study published in the Medeniyet Medical Journal, some of the best and safe herbal teas during pregnancy may include ginger, thyme, sage, raspberry, chamomile and fennel tea. However, consult a medical expert before starting on these teas for their proper dosage.

What are the benefits of drinking tea during pregnancy?

Consuming healthy teas during pregnancy can help promote the growth and development of the foetus and prevent the risk of maternal diseases like hypertension and gestational diabetes. However, it is to be noted that not all teas benefit during pregnancy, as some teas like green tea may cause more harm than good.