NY Times Reports:
A small study at an urban pediatric clinic suggests that children younger than 12 are routinely consuming so much caffeine that it could interfere with their sleep. The source, almost exclusively, is caffeinated soft drinks, like Coca-Cola.
About 75 percent of 228 children in the study (published online on Thursday in The Journal of Pediatrics) consumed caffeine. Children 5 to 7 swallowed an average of 52 milligrams a day, and those 8 to 12 averaged 109 milligrams — about the same amount as a cup of drip coffee.
Caffeine is a diuretic, and the study was designed to see whether the consumption was associated with bed-wetting. It was not, but sleep was another matter. Average sleep times for the caffeine drinkers were slightly less than the amount recommended for these ages by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The American Beverage Association disputed the study, citing a 2002 review finding that caffeine’s effects on children “seem to be modest and typically innocuous.”
“Caffeine is safe, even for children,” said Maureen Storey, the association’s senior vice president for science policy.
The new study’s authors acknowledged that it did not prove a link between caffeine and sleep problems. Still, the lead author, William J. Warzak, a professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska, says that avoiding it is a good idea. “But,” he added, “you’re not a terrible parent if a kid has a Coke away from home.”