From Medscape Education Clinical Briefs
Laurie Barclay, MD
Hien T. Nghiem, MD
December 23, 2010 — Caffeine intake is prevalent in children and may have negative effects on sleep duration, according to the results of a study reported online in the December 16 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.
"Caffeine's diuretic properties have encouraged behavioural health practitioners to eliminate caffeine from the diet of children with enuresis," write William Warzak, MD, from the Munroe-Meyer Institute and the Department of Pediatrics, University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues. "The Food and Drug Administration has not developed pediatric guidelines for caffeine consumption, but Canadian guidelines recommend that children aged 4 to 6 years old consume no more than 45 mg/d, approximately equivalent to the amount of caffeine found in a 12-ounce can of cola.... The most recent caffeine consumption data for children living in the United States is almost a decade old, and most of this research has been conducted with older children, adolescents, and adults."
The study goals were to obtain current data for caffeine intake in children, to evaluate the associations between caffeine, enuresis, and sleep, and to assess cross-cultural differences in caffeine consumption by Spanish- and English-speaking children aged 5 to 12 years.
During routine clinical visits at a pediatric clinic in Omaha, parents were surveyed about their child's daily consumption of various types of snacks and beverages. Of 228 young children whose parents were surveyed, about three quarters regularly consumed caffeine. Mean daily caffeine intake was approximately 52 mg in children aged 5 to 7 years and approximately 109 mg in children aged 8 to 12 years. Older children drank more caffeinated beverages than younger children.
"Some children as young as 5 years old were consuming the equivalent of a can of soda a day," Dr. Warzak said in a news release. "Children between the ages of 8 and 12 years consumed an average of 109 mg a day, the equivalent of almost 3 12-ounce cans of soda."
This study authors note that 109 mg caffeine daily is almost twice the amount recommended by Canadian pediatric guidelines and in excess of the amount shown to create physiological effects in adults.
Although caffeine intake was significantly negatively correlated with hours slept, caffeine consumption and enuresis were not significantly correlated. Compared with English-speaking parents, Spanish-speaking parents reported fewer events of enuresis in their children.
"Contrary to popular belief, children were not more likely to wet the bed if they consumed caffeine, despite the fact that caffeine is a diuretic," said coauthor Shelby Evans, PhD, also from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Children aged 5 to 7 years slept an average of 9.46 hours per night, which is above the minimum 9 hours recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but approximately one quarter of these children slept less than 9 hours per night. Children aged 8 to 12 years old slept an average of 8.47 hours per night, which is below the minimum proposed by the CDC.
Limitations of this study include the inability to determine causal relationships, potential recall and parental bias, and a modest sample size of Spanish-speaking children. In addition, this study did not address the specific physiological and psychological effects of caffeine consumption on young children.
"Parents should be aware of the potentially negative influence of caffeine on a child's sleep quality and daily functioning," Dr. Warzak concluded.
The study authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
J Pediatr. Published online December 16, 2010.
Because of caffeine's diuretic properties, children with enuresis are encouraged to eliminate caffeine from their diet. At this time, the Food and Drug Administration has no pediatric guidelines for caffeine consumption. Canadian guidelines recommend that children aged 4 to 6 years old consume no more than 45 mg/day, which is approximately equivalent to the amount of caffeine found in a 12-ounce can of cola. For 7- to 9-year-old and 10- to 12-year-old children, the recommendations are no more than 62 mg/day and 85 mg/day, respectively. Caffeine consumption data for children living in the United States are outdated.
The aim of this study was to obtain current caffeine consumption data for children and examine the relationships between caffeine, enuresis, and sleep.