The Effects of Caffeine on a Child
Caffeine and Your Child
For adults, caffeine is the go-to substance when an extra wake-up call is required in the morning, or when plans for the night revolve around burying ones nose in a truckload of work. But what effect does caffeine have on children. The idea of handing a mug of coffee to a child seems ridiculous right? But in reality, there are more sources of caffeine around your children than you could ever have fathomed! In fact you might knowingly or unknowingly be contributing to their caffeine intake yourself by purchasing caffeine containing foods. The link between caffeine intake and stunted growth in children may have been proved fallacious, but this one incorrect allegation does not nullify all the other adverse effects that regular caffeine intake can have on your child. It is best to keep a child’s caffeine consumption to a bare minimum, about 45 milligrams per day according to the Canadian guidelines for caffeine intake.
What are the Effects of Caffeine on a Child?
Soft drinks, ice creams and chocolates may be highly effective ways of pleasing your children, but the caffeine in these delicious treats has an agenda of its own and it’s anything but beneficial for your children. The immediate effects of caffeine on a child include the following:
- Anxiety: According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota medical school, regular caffeine intake results in nervous, anxious and jittery behavior in children which can affect their performance in school.
- Alertness: The alertness caused by caffeine has a disruptive effect on the sleeping patterns of children. Results from a study conducted by the University of Nebraska medical center proved that regular caffeine intake reduces a child’s quality of sleep.
- Poor concentration.
- Upset stomach.
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate.
- Caffeine acts as a diuretic. Thus caffeine consumption leads to a loss of water which can lead to dehydration-like symptoms.
Does Caffeine Cause any Long Term Health Complications?
Apart from the aforementioned immediate health issues, children who regularly consume caffeine will also become increasingly susceptible to the following health complications:
- Dental Problems: Regular consumption of sweet caffeinated beverages can only guarantee one thing- dental cavities! The acidity in these beverages erodes the tooth enamel and the high sugar content (about 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounces of non-diet carbonated soft drink) increases the probability of the development of cavities.
- Obesity: A child who consumes one or more of 12 ounce caffeine containing sweetened soft drinks is at a 60% greater risk of becoming obese than a child who avoids caffeine.
- Other risks: Regular caffeine consumption can lead to caffeine dependence. If caffeine consumption is stopped abruptly it can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, muscle aches and even mild depression. Moreover, regular caffeine intake can also aggravate heart problems and nervous system disorders.