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Children Caffeine Study Shows It Has Different Effects as They Age

Image: Children Caffeine Study Shows It Has Different Effects as They Age
A man and his two children are drinking from a single glass through three straws.

By    |   Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 03:52 PM

A new study suggests that children, as they get into their teen years, process caffeine differently based on their gender.

About three out of four U.S. children consume caffeine on a daily basis each day according to research published earlier this year. However, there isn’t a lot of data about the safety of caffeinated beverages and their effects on children.

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Conducted by the University of Buffalo in New York, the study observed about 100 children and teens — half were 8- and 9-year-olds and half were 15- to 17-year-olds — who consumed the equivalent amount of caffeine found in a can of soda or a cup of coffee.

"Although our data do not suggest that this level of caffeine is particularly harmful, there is likely no benefit to giving kids caffeine, and the potential negative effects on sleep should be considered when deciding which beverages to give to kids," said Jennifer Temple, an associate professor and lead author of the caffeine study, told HealthDay.

The research team found that caffeine's effects were relatively similar between boys and girls before puberty. However, they found that caffeine lowered the heart rates of the kids past puberty by about 3 to 8 beats per minute, with boys being more affected than girls. Caffeine also increased the systolic blood pressure in boys past puberty to a greater extent than girls, although the effect was slight.

"This suggests that boys may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than girls," Temple said.

The researchers also pointed out that girls also experienced different heart rate and blood pressure changes throughout their menstrual cycle, further supporting their theory that sexual maturity changes the body's reaction to caffeine.

Young children should avoid consuming caffeine altogether, John Higgins, a sports cardiologist with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, told HealthDay. Teenagers shouldn't have more than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day — the amount in a typical cup of coffee — Higgins said, particularly those with medical and sleep issues.

"Parents should monitor how much soda, coffee or energy beverages their teenagers drink and help them understand the risks associated with taking in large amounts of caffeine," he said.

Different cultures view children’s caffeine intake differently, particularly Latin American cultures. According to a blogger on Deep Brazil, an online magazine about Brazilian life and culture, it’s common for a child to grow up drinking coffee mixed with milk.

“It is absolutely normal for a Brazilian child to have it for breakfast as soon as he/she is out of the high chair,” the blogger wrote in 2011. “But children generally don’t drink 'cafézinho,' the coffee shot that may follow a meal or that is offered to guests — this is rather an adult habit.”

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A new study suggests that children, as they get into their teen years, process caffeine differently based on their gender.
caffeine, children, study
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2014-52-17
Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 03:52 PM
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