Many pregnant women have questions about what they should or should not eat and drink, including whether it is safe to consume caffeinated energy drinks such as Red Bull. Caffeinated, sugar-sweetened beverages are generally not recommended as healthy options during pregnancy, although some recommendations allow for limited quantities. As of the time of publication, the safety of energy drinks during pregnancy has not been studied specifically. Therefore, the safety of energy drinks cannot be assured.
Red Bull Ingredients
According to the ingredients listed on the manufacturer's website, Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine per 8.4 ounce can. That's similar to the amount in other energy drinks and in an 8-ounce cup of coffee, but it's twice the caffeine found in most caffeinated soft drinks. It also lists among its ingredients 27 grams of sucrose and glucose from red beet. Red Bull also contains unspecified amounts of taurine and B-group vitamins.
Caffeine During Pregnancy
Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase blood pressure and heart rate. For anyone, excessive consumption can lead to such symptoms as insomnia and stomach upset. During pregnancy, caffeine crosses the placenta and could potentially reduce blood flow to the fetus. After reviewing the available research about the potential effects of caffeine during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued an opinion in August 2010. The ACOG statement notes that up to 200 mg of caffeine daily during pregnancy does not appear to increase the risk for miscarriage or preterm birth. They note, however, that it remains unknown whether caffeine interferes with normal fetal growth. The March of Dimes also recommends ingesting no more than 200 mg of caffeine daily during pregnancy.
Other Dietary Considerations
Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid added to energy drinks to boost performance. Claims of health benefits, such as immune system protection, have yet to be scientifically proved. Taurine's use as a dietary supplement -- during pregnancy or otherwise -- remains a subject of debate. Red Bull contains sucrose, or table sugar, and glucose. These are natural sugars, and the amount in a can of Red Bull is roughly comparable to a similar serving of fruit or juice. There is no specific recommended daily limit on sugar consumption during pregnancy. However, the authors of an August 2012 study report published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" noted that more than 1 serving of artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with increased risk of preterm delivery. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that everyone avoid sugar-added drinks, as they lack the nutritional benefits found in natural foods and drinks.
Little is certain, scientifically, about the effects of energy drinks like Red Bull during pregnancy. Limiting consumption of caffeine to 200 mg or less per day is advised, regardless of the source. However, the research on caffeine, sugar and taurine intake is inconclusive. Always consult your doctor with questions or concerns about making healthy dietary choices during pregnancy.