According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 75 percent of American teens and kids drink caffeine daily, even though the mixture of caffeine and kids proves to be dangerous. When children drink a large amount of caffeine, they may experience dangerous side effects. The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) says that children who consume caffeine can experience headaches, insomnia, irritability, dizziness and dehydration. The AOA also says that caffeine makes it difficult for children to absorb calcium, which is necessary for kids to build strong bones and teeth, and that caffeine is also not a good option for children who have a heart condition, especially an irregular heartbeat called an arrhythmia.
Children who do consume caffeine, says Dr. Linette De Armas, a pediatric registered dietician at Holz Children’s Hospital, should cut down on their caffeine consumption by having only one caffeinated drink a day three days a week. De Armas also recommends eliminating high-caffeine energy drinks. She adds that parents whose children followed these orders have had behavioral changes such as focusing more while in school, sleeping better and experiencing calmness instead of hyperactivity. It is important to offer children a mix of alternatives to caffeine that will help them stay well, such as juice or flavored water. Schools are also working together to keep kids safe from the dangers of caffeine.
Two middle schools in Indiana have created rules on energy drinks to help lower the amount of caffeine that children drink in a day. At Franklin Community Middle School, if a staff member catches a child drinking an energy drink or soda, they have to throw it away. Students who attend Greenwood are not allowed to bring in drinks that are high in caffeine, but can consume diet soda. Principal Pam Millikan of the Franklin Community Middle School says that the school’s policy exists to make sure that caffeine use in young people does not become a problem.
In the United Kingdom, one school is even more strict when it comes to children and caffeine. When children mix or even replace their breakfast with caffeinated drinks, they will get detention if caught. Peter Slough, the headteacher (principle) at Small Health School in Birmingham, United Kingdom, decided to ban caffeinated beverages at his school because he said students were having trouble concentrating during the day. If children are caught once with an energy drink, the drink is confiscated. If children go well beyond their first warning, they are given detention.
Children follow their parents and want to do what their parents do, which can include what they eat as well as drink. Adults should not have more than two eight ounce cups of coffee a day and they, as well as their children, can follow these tips from Dr. Stanley Grogg, an AOA board-certified pediatrician, together to cut down on caffeine. Everyone should try to not drink diet soda, because even though they have less sugar, they usually have more caffeine. It is a good idea for parents and children to get a regular, not super-sized, soda when they eat out.
Caffeine is not a great mix when it comes to children. It can cause headaches as well as fatigue from dehydration. Caffeine is also a diuretic, which means more trips to the bathroom during the night. When parents decide what drinks they should enjoy together with their children, they should look at the caffeine content to make sure it is safe. Even though some schools are coming together to not allow caffeinated drinks, parents should still monitor their children’s caffeine intake.
By Jordan Bonte