Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Estimates have shown that during 2019 and 2020, approximately 170 million 60 kg bags of this substance were consumed worldwide. But how much of this figure have children and teenagers allocated to themselves? In some cultures, children start drinking coffee at a young age, while in other societies, coffee is considered more of a drink for adults.
For example, in countries that produce coffee, children are often introduced to this substance at a younger age and are likely to start consuming coffee earlier than children in other countries.
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Can children drink coffee?
If your child is ten years old or older and wants to drink from your coffee cup from time to time, there is no need to worry and you can give him this permission. However, if your child wants to drink a full cup of coffee a day, they should wait until they reach puberty.
Because during adulthood and after puberty, the body can better manage the effect of caffeine, but as long as your child is of growing age, you should limit caffeine consumption for him as much as possible.
However, some studies have shown that 73% of children and adolescents consume some caffeine daily, most of which comes from coffee, soda, or energy drinks.
How much coffee is suitable for children?
In small amounts, coffee is not harmful to children, but there are a few things to consider before letting your child consume coffee or other caffeinated products. First of all, most of the chocolate drinks that children order in coffee shops, except caffeine, are full of sugar, cream and sweets such as caramel, which increases their fat and sugar consumption and reduces the possibility of consuming healthier drinks such as water.
You should note that besides coffee, caffeine is present in other beverages such as black soda (37 mg per 350 grams), hot chocolate (10 mg per 350 grams) and chocolate (30 mg per 42 grams), which are usually found in They are very popular among children.
Also, this substance is added to a variety of sports products and energy drinks. So you should be careful that products containing caffeine are not only limited to tea and coffee. The big drawback of drinking coffee in children is its caffeine content.
Currently, there are no specific guidelines for caffeine intake in children. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not allow caffeine consumption by children, but the Canadian government has some basic guidelines for this issue. The country recommends the following daily limits for caffeine:
- Ages 4 to 6: 45 mg (about half a cup of coffee)
- Ages 7 to 9: 62.5 mg
- Ages 10 to 12: 85 mg
- Adolescents: 85 to 100 mg
What effect does coffee have on children?
Children and adolescents are growing, and the effect of caffeine on their nervous system and cardiovascular system is not yet fully understood. But there is no doubt that too much caffeine is dangerous for children and can be toxic in very high doses. The sources of caffeine consumed by children have changed over the years. Instead of drinking coffee, children are now drinking caffeinated soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee or coffee-based drinks.
However, children are very sensitive to the effects of caffeine, and since children and teenagers do not know when to stop consuming caffeine, parents are responsible for this task. Possible side effects of caffeine consumption include:
- Increase of heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Bad mood
- Restlessness or muscle twitching
- Sleep disorders
- Stomach discomfort
One study found that 73 percent of American children ages 2 to 11 consume caffeine on a daily basis, most of which comes from soft drinks. Coffee and energy drinks (which became popular in the early 2000s) are also another factor in increasing caffeine consumption among children and teenagers.
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Caffeine and children’s brain development
Research shows that caffeine consumption during pregnancy can change important brain pathways in the fetus. A 2021 study analyzed thousands of brain scans of 9- and 10-year-old children and identified changes in the brain structure of children who were exposed to caffeine during their mother’s pregnancy.
This study showed that coffee consumption among pregnant mothers causes significant behavioral problems such as attention problems and hyperactivity in children. Therefore, it is recommended that a pregnant person does not consume more than 2 cups of regular coffee per day.
Sleep plays an important role in healthy brain development, especially in learning and memory, regulating emotions and behavior in children. Lack of sleep, caused by excessive caffeine consumption, may affect brain development in children and adolescents.
Coffee and nutrient absorption in children
A diet rich in caffeine can interfere with nutrient intake in children. For example, energy drinks, soda, and coffee reduce a child’s appetite. Today, caffeinated drinks, which are sometimes full of sugar, have taken the place of nutritious drinks.
Coffee and child development
There is no evidence that drinking coffee can stop growth, but it is possible that it slows down the absorption of calcium, which bones need to grow strong. However, this effect is not that great and is unlikely to significantly affect how bones grow.
Coffee and children’s nervous system
A recent study published in the Journal Pediatrics looked at the effects of caffeine consumption on boys and girls aged 8 and 9 and 15 to 17 years. All children and adolescents in this study experienced changes in blood pressure (increase) and heart rate (decrease).
These effects were the same in boys and girls of the juvenile group, but stronger in adolescent boys than in adolescent girls. Other common side effects included restlessness, aggression, upset stomach, sleep and concentration problems.
Coffee and children’s sleep
Caffeine increases alertness, so it makes sense that coffee and caffeinated beverages may disrupt sleep. Children and teenagers are still growing and need more sleep than adults. Regular consumption of caffeine can lead to their lack of sleep. Lack of sleep can affect alertness during the day, leading to a vicious cycle of consuming more caffeine to stay awake.
When should you see a doctor?
Depending on weight, age and other factors such as the health status of people, coffee and caffeine can have different effects on different people. Seek medical advice if your child shows signs of caffeine overdose, or if you believe he or she has consumed too much caffeine.
Body tremors, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain, rapid and consecutive breathing, anger or irritability, fast or irregular heartbeat, nervous attack, convulsions and hallucinations are among the symptoms of excessive caffeine consumption.
Parents who are concerned about their child’s coffee or caffeine intake should carefully look at the labels on the products they buy to be sure of the caffeine level. Those who are concerned about their child’s caffeine intake can consult with a pediatrician, child psychiatrist, or mental health professional.
what’s the solution?
Knowing the harmful effects of caffeine and the symptoms of caffeine overdose can help protect the health of children and youth. The growing number of children drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages shows that many parents see caffeine as a natural and safe substance. The truth is that caffeine is a powerful and stimulating drug, and despite its availability and widespread use, care should be taken in its consumption. It should be noted that the daily habit of drinking coffee or tea may not be suitable for the health of the body according to the individual characteristics of each person.
If your child is used to drinking tea or coffee, it is best to consult a doctor about its potential impact on your child’s development. Your doctor may suggest that you replace coffee or tea with hot milk with some cocoa powder. Other options such as decaffeinated coffee and tea are among those that can fill the void of caffeine for your child.
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This article was prepared by an expert. But this is for general information only. Before any action, it is necessary to consult a doctor.
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