A lot of parents don’t let their children touch coffee, but that doesn’t mean that kids don’t get their fair share of caffeine. In fact, almost three out of every four children in the U.S. consume caffeine on a given day. With more and more caffeinated energy drinks on the market, people are starting to think about the real effects of caffeine on children.
A new study published in Pediatrics shows that once kids hit puberty, caffeine affects boys and girls differently, and it’s worse if you’re a boy.
Examining the reaction of both pre-pubescent and post-pubescent children, researchers at The University of Buffalo During found that during childhood, the effects of caffeine are the same, but once they hit puberty, boys have a much stronger cardiovascular reaction to caffeine than girls.
The cardiovascular reaction in question is a decrease in heart rate and increase in blood pressure, which caffeine also does to adults. The researchers also found that the reaction of girls to caffeine varied during their menstrual cycle.
So how bad are these caffeine reactions?
“While the data suggests that boys and girls respond differently to caffeine, both genders experienced cardiovascular effects of caffeine,” Jennifer L. Temple, lead author of the study, told LiveScience. “And while it does not suggest that caffeine is particularly harmful to children and adolescents, there is little evidence that caffeine consumption is beneficial to health in this population.”
Currently the FDA doesn’t require the amount of caffeine in food products to be labeled, but as caffeinated energy drinks become more and more popular, it’s important to do your research. According to TIME:
A 2012 Consumer Reports review of 27 best-selling energy drinks found that 11 do not list caffeine content. Among those that do, the tested amount was on average 20% higher than what was on the label.
The FDA says 400 milligrams a day, about four or five cups of coffee, is generally not considered dangerous for adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine consumption among young kids and adolescents.
The new study underlines the need for more research on the effects of caffeine and how children are impacted by it.
For now, while you may already have your kids steer clear of coffee, take a hint from the authors of the paper and keep kids away from energy drinks and soda, and not just because of their high sugar content.
Photo Credit: Logan Brumm
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