Q: I have three questions about caffeine and nursing: How long does it take for caffeine (after you consume it) to reach the breast milk so it goes to the baby? How long does it take for the caffeine to exit my body? How long does it take to exit the baby’s body? (My baby is 8 pounds, 6 ounces and 7 days old.)
A: Caffeine is on the “approved for breastfeeding mothers by the American Academy of Pediatrics” list, however there are a few little-known facts about caffeine and its effect on a newborn or neonate (in the first month of life).
Peak levels of caffeine are found in breast milk within one hour of ingestion according to Medications & Mother’s Milk 1999 to 2000 edition. The pediatric half-life of caffeine in a newborn is 80 to 97.5 hours. Compare that to the half-life in a 6-month-old of 2.6 hours.
Medications and other substances that are excreted from the body are processed by the liver (and other organs) and the liver of a newborn is very immature and inefficient. There have been reports of high plasma levels of caffeine in a neonate due to chronic caffeine intake by mother in the last days/weeks of pregnancy. Adult caffeine concerns include insomnia, irritability, and poor sleeping patterns. These can be concerns as well for the very new baby.
After 1 month of age, the average daily dose received by an infant is less than 3 lmg/kg/day in light-to-moderate maternal use. This averages to 0.06 to 0.15 percent of the maternal dose. These concentrations are well below doses of caffeine that are used to treat neonatal apnea in infants. Caffeine intake is a concern when baby exhibits signs of effect, especially during the critical newborn period.
I hope this answers your question.
By Mary Kay Smith
IBCLC, Lactation Consultant