Is quinine harmful during pregnancy?

Tonic Water & Pregnancy: Beware of the amount

Tonic water should not be consumed in excessive quantities during pregnancy. In the following article we will explain what you should pay attention to and what alternatives there are.

How many glasses of tonic water are allowed per day during pregnancy?

Quinine is a bitter substance that is contained in tonic water and also in bitter lemon. In principle, this is not dangerous for pregnant women as long as there is no overdose. Daily can one or two glasses of the bitter drink can be drunk quietly without harming the unborn child. Other drinks that you should also be careful with include energy drinks, coffee, black tea and, of course, alcoholic beverages.

What effect does tonic water have on the pregnant body?

If tonic water or bitter lemon is drunk in too large quantities, the quinine it contains can lead to malformations in the fetus. In contrast, in small doses at the end of pregnancy, it is possible to stimulate labor with the drink.

What alternative drinks are there for tonic water?

Granted, tonic water can be very refreshing, especially in summer when it's very hot. However, healthy vegetable and fruit juices, water or teas are much better for your baby because they contain many vitamins and no quinine. Have you ever tried making elderflower syrup yourself? Here's a suggestion:

The external content cannot be displayed.

When should you not drink tonic water under any circumstances?

If you are hypersensitive to cinchonal alkaloids, tonic water should not be consumed under any circumstances. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) classifies pregnant women and unborn babies as people at risk for whom the consumption of quinine harbors health risks. There is an example from the scientific literature where a newborn baby showed withdrawal symptoms because the mother consumed more than one liter of tonic water a day during pregnancy. He was trembling all the time. The doctors were able to detect quinine in his urine. So be careful with this drink!


Tonic water contains quinine, a substance obtained from the bark of the Chinese tree. If larger amounts are consumed, this can lead to considerable damage to the health of the fetus.

Image source: Getty Images / Irrin0215