Kids and Caffeine

Parents used to warn kids that caffeine would stunt their growth. These days, they’re more likely to take them out for a Frappuccino. writer Linda Carroll reports on new research into the effect of coffee and caffeinated drinks on kids.  It turns out that even low doses of caffeine —the amount you’d find in a can of soda or a cup of coffee — had an effect on kids’ blood pressure and heart rates.

Interestingly, researchers found that after kids went through puberty, caffeine had more potent heart and blood pressure effects on boys than girls.

It’s the cardiovascular effects that have experts most concerned, with some advising that kids shouldn’t have caffeinated drinks until their late teens.

Dr. Kevin Shannon, a professor at the UCLA, says “There are lots of things we can’t do because we’re not old enough or mature enough.  Caffeine should probably be added to that list.”

The study showed that low doses of caffeine slowed the kids’ heart rate and increased their blood pressure.  A slower heart rate might be the opposite of what you’d expect, it’s not a new finding

At low doses, the heart slows down to compensate for rising blood pressure, At higher doses, the heart speeds up.

What has doctors particularly worried is the popularity of energy drinks, which often contain high levels of caffeine.  At high doses, caffeine can bump blood pressure into the danger zone and spark life-threatening heart arrhythmias.  It can also trigger neurologic symptoms, including seizures.

So the best advice for parents is keep caffeine away from your kids.  Here’s an idea–instead of a cappuccinos or a can of Rock Star… what about I don’t know—water or milk!

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.