Kids and Caffeine

November 12, 2012

Kids and Caffeine

Lots of energy drinks have ingredients which are unknown or are misunderstood by parents of children who drink them. Some mums and dads think that the natural sounding guarana or taurine is good for you, even though they are stimulants in the same vein as caffeine. These same parents would never allow their kids to have three or four cups of coffee yet seem to consider energy drinks as ok. This is not the case say the American Academy of Pediatrics who recently published their view of energy drinks cataloging the caffeine and other stimulants present in them. They concluded that energy drinks “have no place in the diet of children and adolescents”.

In two years, 2006 to 2008, poison control centers reported 1,200 cases of caffeine toxicity in children younger than six years old. Parents have no awareness of the levels of caffeine present in some of the energy drinks on the market. It is believed amongst some health care professionals that this is a contributing factor in an increase of caffeine toxicity incidents relating to young children and teenagers.

Amongst parents, talking about energy drinks produce many reactions. They feel that because the drinks are freely available then perhaps they, the parents are over-reacting. However another set of parents state that they can actually see the rush that their son gets from the drink and then he goes flat shortly afterwards. It has led them to stop him drinking them.

Other teenagers claim to need them to help focus on schoolwork and energy drinks help them to stay awake longer when studying.

A moderate and realistic viewpoint is put forward by Pediatrician Roy Benaroch, MD, who says: “There are worse habits that teenagers could have, but the big risks are jitteriness, insomnia, weight gain from extra calories, and cavities from the sugar”. He also cautions that we know that there is sugar and caffeine in energy drinks however we do not know all of the biological effects of the other ingredients.

Parents should read the labels carefully to know exactly what ingredients are in the beverages their children are drinking. And also be aware of caffeine toxicity and its symptoms, which include nervousness, insomnia, jitters, restlessness, irritability, muscle tremors, upset stomach and fast heartbeat.

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