Last update April 16, 2024


Very Low Risk

Safe. Compatible. 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. An infant may end up consuming a fifth of what the mother consumed, expressed in milligrams per kilo of weight: relative infant dose of 20%. (Khymenets 2016, Atkinson 1988, Resman 1977)

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)

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)

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.

Cocoa butter is an oil extracted from the fruit of the plant; It is rich in triglycerides and has antioxidant properties. In addition to making chocolate, it is used in cosmetic products and is approved by the FDA to prevent diaper rash in newborns. (Can Gürkan 2022)
One study with many limitations showed that applying cocoa butter to the nipples is possibly a more effective method than applying breast milk for preventing nipple soreness, swelling, or cracks. It should be applied after breastfeeding and cleaned with water before the next feeding. (Can Gürkan 2022)

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Theobromine is also known as

Theobromine in other languages or writings:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Theobromine in its composition:


Variable Value Unit
Molecular weight 180 daltons
Protein Binding 30 %
VD 0.62 l/Kg
pKa 9.28 -
Tmax 2 - 3 hours
7 ± 2 hours
M/P ratio 0.8 ± 0.2 -
Theoretical Dose 0.8 mg/Kg/d
Relative Dose 20 %


  1. Can Gürkan Ö, Abbasoğlu D, Arslan Özkan H, Alioğullari A. Cacao Butter as Prophylaxis for Nipple Problems: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Study. Breastfeed Med. 2022 Jul 26. Consulted on Aug. 1, 2022 Abstract
  2. McCreedy A, Bird S, Brown LJ, Shaw-Stewart J, Chen YF. Effects of maternal caffeine consumption on the breastfed child: a systematic review. Swiss Med Wkly. 2018 Sep 28;148:w14665. Abstract
  3. Caprioli G, Fiorini D, Maggi F, Nicoletti M, Ricciutelli M, Toniolo C, Prosper B, Vittori S, Sagratini G. Nutritional composition, bioactive compounds and volatile profile of cocoa beans from different regions of Cameroon. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Jun;67(4):422-30. Abstract
  4. Khymenets O, Rabassa M, Rodríguez-Palmero M, Rivero-Urgell M, Urpi-Sarda M, Tulipani S, Brandi P, Campoy C, Santos-Buelga C, Andres-Lacueva C. Dietary Epicatechin Is Available to Breastfed Infants through Human Breast Milk in the Form of Host and Microbial Metabolites. J Agric Food Chem. 2016 Jul 6;64(26):5354-60. Abstract
  5. Uenishi T, Sugiura H, Tanaka T, Uehara M. Aggravation of atopic dermatitis in breast-fed infants by tree nut-related foods and fermented foods in breast milk. J Dermatol. 2011 Feb;38(2):140-5. Abstract
  6. Langer S, Marshall LJ, Day AJ, Morgan MR. Flavanols and methylxanthines in commercially available dark chocolate: a study of the correlation with nonfat cocoa solids. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Aug 10;59(15):8435-41. Abstract
  7. Cambria S, Manganaro R, Mamì C, Marseglia L, Gemelli M. Hyperexcitability syndrome in a newborn infant of chocoholic mother. Am J Perinatol. 2006 Oct;23(7):421-2. Epub 2006 Sep 28. Abstract
  8. Richelle M, Tavazzi I, Enslen M, Offord EA. Plasma kinetics in man of epicatechin from black chocolate. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Jan;53(1):22-6. Abstract
  9. Lust KD, Brown JE, Thomas W. Maternal intake of cruciferous vegetables and other foods and colic symptoms in exclusively breast-fed infants. J Am Diet Assoc. 1996 Abstract
  10. Blanchard J, Weber CW, Shearer LE. Methylxanthine levels in breast milk of lactating women of different ethnic and socioeconomic classes. Biopharm Drug Dispos. 1992 Apr;13(3):187-96. Abstract
  11. Evans RW, Fergusson DM, Allardyce RA, Taylor B. Maternal diet and infantile colic in breast-fed infants. Lancet. 1981 Jun 20;1(8234):1340-2. Abstract
  12. Resman BH, Blumenthal P, Jusko WJ. Breast milk distribution of theobromine from chocolate. J Pediatr. 1977 Sep;91(3):477-80. Abstract

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