Caffeine and Kids

eenage girl sipping from to-go coffee cup

Many of the food and drink items that children and teens crave have caffeine in them. You can find caffeine in soda, energy drinks, and chocolate candy — even hot cocoa. If these are some of your child’s favorites, he or she could be consuming more caffeine than you think.

About 73 percent of children consume caffeine on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s roughly 3 out of 4 children who regularly have caffeine. Most of these children get their caffeine from soda. But soda intake is on the decline, says the CDC. It is being replaced by energy drinks and coffee.

Is caffeine bad for my child?

Caffeine is a stimulant. More than that, it is a drug. It is defined as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system. In adults, this means it can make you more alert, even give you more energy. In children, caffeine can raise blood pressure and interfere with sleep. It can make children less aware of being tired. It can affect their moods, and make anxiety worse. They can even suffer headaches from caffeine withdrawal.

Not a lot is known about how caffeine affects a child’s developing brain. But kids (especially young children) can be sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not offered a recommendation regarding caffeine and kids or teenagers. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against caffeine being a part of a child’s diet.

What about my teenager?

As more and more teens trade soda for energy drinks, they have become a focal point of caffeine consumption.

The AAP states that kids should not consume energy drinks and rarely need sports drinks. “Energy drinks pose potential health risks because…

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