Health

One in Seven Two-Year-Olds Drinks Caffeinated Beverages, Study Shows

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Several studies have been conducted on pregnant women who drink coffee, and the results haven’t shown that the children from those mothers developed with behavioral disorders, or experienced hyperactivity. When drank in moderate doses, caffeine doesn’t seem to pose a threat to pregnant women nor their children. However, it is common knowledge that coffee should be drank by adults and that children shouldn’t take it in.

Although it is widely known that children should not consume caffeine, a recent study found that one in every seven children based in Boston drinks some kind of caffeinated beverage. The study was conducted at the Boston Medical Center, where the researchers collected data from 315 mothers and their babies, and found that coffee consumption among toddlers in Boston is a relatively common thing. In fact, around 14-15 percent of 2-year-olds consume around a half a cup of coffee per day, according to the study. As Anne Merewood, the lead researcher and the director of the Breastfeeding Center at the Boston Medical Center stated, “Our results show that many infants and toddlers in Boston – and perhaps in the United States – are being given coffee”

This study was published in the Journal of Human Lactations, and it examined how the changes in weight during a first week since a child’s birth impacted their body mass when they were around two years old.  All the mothers were questioned about the eating and drinking habits of their children, and the researchers were surprised to hear mothers reporting that besides water and juices they were giving their infants coffee. Then the researchers added a question to the surveys in order to find out if children were taking in coffee, and if yes – how much per day.

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Children who drink coffee are at risk of becoming addicted, obese, developing diabetes, becoming depressed and experiencing sleep problems. It may sound odd that parents are giving their young children coffee, but in some families coffee consumption is a cultural norm and children do drink coffee from an early age. That, however, doesn’t go without health consequences for the children.

A further conducted research showed that coffee was given by many families even to their one-year olds. The results of the study showed that the rate of coffee consumption among one-year-olds was around 2.5 percent, while that percentage grew to 15 by the time children reached the age of two.

The study didn’t investigate in detail in which way the children were given coffee. The researchers assumed that some mothers have been adding coffee to bottled milk. The study found that female infants were more likely to drink coffee than the male ones, but the researchers did not find out what the reason for that may be.

A previous study, conducted in 2013 and published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that 2-year-old children who consumed coffee on a daily basis were at a three times higher risk of being obese in kindergarten, maybe because caffeinated drinks cause cravings for sugary beverages, or simply because children would not just drink black unsweetened coffee, so they take in much more sugar than it’s healthy.

Many mothers would be extremely surprised to hear that some mothers are giving caffeine to their toddlers. It can be difficult to calm them down even when they haven’t had any kind of stimulants. Also, coffee can significantly disrupt the children’s sleep patterns and eating habits, and it can definitely not be healthy for them.

However, for some families it is normal that children drink coffee. In some countries, giving children coffee is a cultural thing, and in countries such as Cambodia, Australia and Ethiopia, it is common for children under five to regularly consume this beverage.

The study that this article described was one of the few that discussed the problem of children drinking coffee. More research is needed in order to make a more precise determination of the potential short-term and long-term health consequences caused by drinking coffee at an early age.

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