The increased availability of caffeinated drinks raises questions about the level of caffeine that is appropriate for children, as well as the benefits and risks associated with their consumption.
The subject prompted a review of existing research that concluded children and adolescents should limit daily caffeine consumption to 2.5 mg per kilo of body weight.
This equates to one or two cups of tea or one small cup of coffee, reports Carrie H. Ruxton, lead researcher on the paper published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Vol.27)
“Lower contributors of caffeine, such as tea, may be more appropriate for children because they contribute to daily fluid intakes and provide flavonoids. By contrast, caffeinated soft drinks may be less suitable options for children as a result of their acidity, higher caffeine content, presence of added sugar (in some cases) and absence of bioactive compounds,” writes Ruxton.
Consumption above these levels increased the risk of anxiety and withdrawal symptoms. Smaller amounts are not linked with such effects. Ruxton concluded additional research is needed.
Source: The Suitability of Caffeinated Drinks for Children: A Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials, Observational Studies and Expert Panel Guidance.