Caring For Our Kids: Children and caffeine

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Children are consuming more caffeine than they did just a few years ago.

We know caffeine can make adults jittery and can affect our sleep, but what about kids? And how much is too much? Dr. Ryan Redman from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital shares some of the side effects of caffeine and how the stimulant is more prevalent in food.

How much caffeine is too much? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no caffeine for young children and limiting it for teens. It’s a tough question because the effects of caffeine can vary widely for different people and the Food and Drug Administration is currently conducting studies on caffeine consumption by kids and teens. We just don’t know very much about the long-term effects of caffeine on kids’ growing bodies and developing nervous systems.

Side effects 

Children are generally more sensitive to caffeine compared to adults, and can feel the adverse effects for longer periods of time. These can be much worse for people who have certain medical conditions or who take medications or supplements.

Adverse effects of caffeine include:

  • Fast or irregular heartbeats
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Troubling sleeping
  • Anxiety

What about energy drinks? 

Energy drinks are not recommended for kids or teens. They can be dangerous because they can contain excessive amounts caffeine and other stimulants like guarana and taurine.  It’s important to talk to your kids about the possible side effects and urge them not to drink energy drinks.

What about added caffeine? 

More products contain caffeine now. We know it’s in coffee, sodas and energy drinks, but caffeine is also being added to products like jelly beans, waffles and gum. This new trend is prompting the FDA to investigate added caffeine, particularly its effects on children and adolescents.

Bottom line 

Do not allow young children to consume any caffeine. Read ingredient lists on drinks, medications, and food products to be sure your child isn’t consuming caffeine. Limit caffeine for teens and talk with them about the dangers, reminding them that caffeine is a drug with real side effects.

KidsHealth: Kids and Caffeine 

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