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Many Children Consuming Sizable Amount of Caffeine

Caffeine consumption related to fewer hours of sleep, but not significantly correlated with enuresis

FRIDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Many children may be consuming more caffeine than previously reported, with older children consuming enough to cause physiological effects in adults, according to research published online Dec. 17 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

William J. Warzak, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues analyzed data from 201 children, aged 5 to 12 years, recruited from an outpatient pediatric clinic. Parents reported children's average snack and beverage consumption and responded to questions about the children's sleep history.

The researchers found that roughly 75 percent of the children consumed caffeine. Children aged 5 to 7 consumed roughly 52 mg of caffeine daily -- more than the amount in a 12-ounce can of cola. Children 8 to 12 consumed roughly 109 mg, above the amount that can cause physiological effects in adults. Caffeine consumption was negatively correlated with the average number of hours of sleep; however, caffeine was not significantly correlated with enuresis.

"Children who consumed caffeine were less likely to wet the bed than children who did not drink caffeinated beverages. Therefore removing caffeine from children's diets, although a logical treatment recommendation for enuresis, was not supported by the data," write the authors, who conclude that they "have not investigated the specific physiological and psychological effects of caffeine consumption on young children, but, given the potential effects of caffeine on childhood behavior, a screen of caffeine consumption might be beneficial when evaluating childhood behavioral health concerns."

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