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Energy Drinks: Implications for the Breastfeeding Mother

Thorlton, Janet PhD, MS, RN; Ahmed, Azza DNSc, RN, IBCLC, CPNP; Colby, David A. PharmD, PhD

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: May/June 2016 - Volume 41 - Issue 3 - p 179–185
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0000000000000228
Feature: CE Connection

Breastfeeding women may experience disrupted sleep schedules and be tempted to turn to popular energy drinks to reduce fatigue and enhance alertness, prompting the question: What are the maternal and child health implications for breastfeeding mothers consuming energy drinks? Caffeine and vitamin-rich energy drinks contain a variety of herbal ingredients and vitamins; however, ingredient amounts may not be clearly disclosed on product labels. Interactions between herbal ingredients and caffeine are understudied and not well defined in the literature. Some infants can be sensitive to caffeine and display increased irritability and sleep disturbances when exposed to caffeine from breastmilk. Breastfeeding women who consume energy drinks may be ingesting herbal ingredients that have not undergone scientific evaluation, and if taking prenatal vitamins, may unknowingly exceed the recommended daily intake. Caffeinated products are marketed in newer ways, fueling concerns about health consequences of caffeine exposure. We present implications associated with consumption of caffeine and vitamin-rich energy drinks among breastfeeding women. Product safety, labeling, common ingredients, potential interactions, and clinical implications are discussed. Healthcare providers should encourage breastfeeding women to read product labels for ingredients, carbohydrate content, serving size, and to discourage consumption of energy drinks when breastfeeding and/or taking prenatal vitamins, to avoid potential vitamin toxicity.

Energy drinks are often used by new mothers who are fatigued by the demands of breastfeeding but little is known about the effects of the contents on infants and the interaction of the contents with the prenatal vitamins many times used by breastfeeding mothers. An overview of the clinical implications of energy drink use by new mothers is provided.

Janet Thorlton is an Assistant Professor, Purdue University, Johnson Hall School of Nursing, West Lafayette, IN. The author can be reached via e-mail at

Azza Ahmed is an Assistant Professor, Purdue University, School of Nursing, West Lafayette, IN.

David A. Colby is an Associate Professor, University of Mississippi, Medicinal Chemistry, Department of BioMolecular Sciences, Oxford, MS.

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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