Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Caffeine Affects Young Children Negatively

Young children appear to be consuming more caffeine, so much so that caffeine could be contributing to sleep problems in primary school children, researchers found.

Dr. William Warzak and colleagues from the University of Nebraska Medical Center surveyed the parents of over 200 children between ages 5 to 12 on the types and amounts of snacks and beverages their child consumed on a daily basis.

They found that 75% of these children consumed caffeine on a daily basis, and the more caffeine the children consumed, the less they slept.

The average intake was two or three times higher than the 22- to 23-mg daily average reported nearly a decade ago, they noted.

Children aged 5 to 7 years old consumed approximately 52 mg of caffeine per day, and children aged 8 to 12 years old consumed approximately 109 mg -- the equivalent of nearly three 12-oz cans of soda.

But even the 52 mg of caffeine consumed by 5- to 7-year-olds on an typical day was well above the level known to have a physiologic effect on adults; caffeine raises your blood pressure, raises your heart rate, and can be addictive.

Nearly all of the caffeine intake was consumed through beverages. Few children got a meaningful amount of caffeine from food.

The study authors stress the importance of parental awareness regarding their child's caffeine consumption. "Parents should be aware of the potentially negative influence of caffeine on a child's sleep quality and daily functioning," Dr. Warzak asserts. The authors suggest that primary care pediatricians may be able to help by screening patients for caffeine consumption and educating parents about the potentially harmful effects of caffeine.

Journal Reference:

William J Warzak, Shelby Evans, Margaret T Floress, Amy C Gross, and Sharon Stoolman. Caffeine Consumption in Young Children. The Journal of Pediatrics, published online 17 December 2010. CLICK HERE for the complete paper.

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