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The Dangers of Teen Caffeine Use

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Kathleen Swayne
Published Date: Monday, April 16, 2018

By Dr. Kathleen Swayne, Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg

Is your teen anxious and often unable to sleep? Caffeine may be the cause. Caffeine has no real health benefits, and foods and drinks that contain large amounts of caffeine have little nutritional value.

While kids today may be drinking less soda, they are still consuming more caffeine than ever. Studies show that coffee and energy drinks – both high in caffeine – are especially popular with teens, and marketers are specifically targeting young people with advertisements for these products.

The AAP recommends that adolescents consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine a day; however, one cup of coffee can have anywhere from 95 to 165 mg. Caffeine pills and powders are also being used more often by teens, especially athletes. Even small amounts of powdered caffeine can cause a life-threatening overdose. Just one teaspoon can have the same effect as drinking 25 cups of coffee.

While a small caffeine fix can be beneficial for adults, the same amount can cause health complications for kids. Those who have too much caffeine may experience:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restless sleep
  • Jitteriness
  • Trouble focusing
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Dehydration (especially in athletes)

Even if your teen doesn’t drink coffee or energy drinks, they might be consuming more caffeine than you think. Talk to them about the dangers of having too much and try to limit their intake of caffeine-heavy products. Here are a few big offenders:

  • Coffee (even decaf varieties can contain traces of caffeine)
  • Tea
  • Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Products containing chocolate, such as ice cream, cereals, hot cocoa, and pudding
  • Sports drinks
  • Candy bars
  • Energy gum
  • Pain-relieving medication
  • PMS medication

In addition, sleep disruption can be minimized by making sure that all caffeine consumption occurs before 2 PM. Your teen will feel the increased alertness and focus that caffeine provides by getting 30-60 minutes of exercise daily, ensuring at least 8 hours of sleep per night, reducing sugar intake and eating complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread. Talk to your child's pediatrician if you have concerns about your teen's caffeine consumption.


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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.