CentraState Medical Center: Kids and Caffiene

Source: GMN News Health
A Starbucks frozen drink after school, a can of Coke with dinner, and a chocolate bar for dessert — how much caffeine is too much for kids?
Ideally, children under 12 shouldn’t be consuming caffeine at all…Caffeine is still a drug — and it’s important for parents to be vigilant about what their kids are drinking…The reason: caffeine is a powerful stimulant…(It’s) easier said than done, however.
While research shows that soda consumption has fallen among kids in recent years, coffee and caffeine-laden “energy drinks” are becoming more and more popular with the under-18 crowd…Another concern is the recent fad of teens combining energy drinks with alcohol….In (2011), the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a warning stating children and teens shouldn’t consume them.In recent years, emergency room doctors have seen more cases of caffeine overdose — which in rare cases can lead to death.
Particularly dangerous are caffeine pills, caffeinated workout supplements, and pure caffeine powder, which can be added to both food and drink. When you’re consuming caffeine in hot coffee, you usually sip it over a period of an hour or more. A caffeine pill or powder is essentially a shock to the central nervous system. Common side effects of caffeine include jitteriness, nervousness, an upset stomach, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and problems sleeping and concentrating. If you already have an anxiety, heart, or nervous system disorder, high levels of caffeine can certainly intensify your symptoms…Caffeine can also interfere with some medications…
So what’s the best plan of action for parents? Keep the lines of communication open — talk about the risks of caffeine the same way you talk about the dangers of smoking.
With older kids, you’ve got to be realistic — they will probably have some caffeine — but pay attention and supervise them. Watch what you keep in the house — even bottled iced tea and some over-the-counter medications have a good deal of caffeine.
Admittedly, adults and kids have varying levels of sensitivity to caffeine, which can linger in the body for four to six hours. Know that weight, medications, and overall health can play a role in how caffeine affects you; even though you can drink two cups of coffee in the morning doesn’t mean your teenager can — or should.

By Sanjay Mehta, D.O., F.A.A.P., board certified in pediatrics and the division chief of the Pediatric Emergency Department at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. He can be reached by calling 732-294-2666.

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