Last update: Oct. 4, 2020
Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.
The fruit of the cacao plant (Theobroma cacao) contains methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) and polyphenols (epicatechin, catechin) with antioxidant properties (Langer 2011).
Theobromine is the main xanthine in cocoa, and there are also very small amounts of caffeine and caffeic acid (Caprioli 2016). 100 g of dark chocolate contains about 700 mg of theobromine; 100 g of milk chocolate contains about 200 mg.
Tea, yerba mate, guarana and kola nut contain small amounts of theobromine.
Theobromine is a xanthine with weaker bronchodilatory and cardiovascular properties than caffeine and has little excitatory activity on the central nervous system. It is not currently used in human medicine, not being sold as such.
Theobromine and epicatechin are well absorbed, transfer to plasma in very low concentrations (Richelle 1999) and are excreted in breastmilk in moderate amounts (Khymenets 2016, Resman 1977). An infant may end up consuming a fifth of what the mother consumed, expressed in milligrams per kilo of weight (relative dose of 20%).
Very few studies have linked "normal" maternal consumption of chocolate with problems in the infant and are of questionable methodology to specifically attribute the cause of the problem to chocolate (McCreedy 2018). Worsening atopic dermatitis has been observed in infants whose mothers consumed chocolate and coffee (Uenishi 2011) and increased frequency of colic in infants of mothers who consumed chocolate (Lust 1996, Evans 1981).
An infant less than one month old whose mother consumed a a considerable amount of chocolate (250 g per day) during pregnancy and breastfeeding developed hyperexcitability syndrome, which disappeared when the mother stopped consuming chocolate (Cambria 2006).
Breastfeeding mothers who consume coffee or chocolate in a non-excessive way do not have clinically significant concentrations of methylxanthines in breastmilk for the infant (Blanchard 1992).
Occasional or moderate consumption of chocolate is unlikely to have significant effects on infants.
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM´s pediatricians and pharmacists, and are based on updated scientific publications.
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