Kids appear to process caffeine -- the stimulant in coffee, energy drinks and soda -- differently after puberty. Males then experience greater heart-rate and blood-pressure changes than females, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests.
About three out of four children in the United States consume caffeine each day, according to research published earlier this year. But little is known about the safety of these increasingly popular caffeinated beverages.
The researchers found that caffeine lowered the heart rates of the kids past puberty by about 3 to 8 beats per minute. Boys were affected more than girls. Caffeine also boosted systolic blood pressure in boys past puberty to a greater extent than girls, although the effect was slight.
"This suggests that boys may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than girls," said Jennifer Temple, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo in New York, and lead author of the study.
"Although our data do not suggest that this level of caffeine is particularly harmful, there is likely no benefit to giving kids caffeine, and the potential negative effects on sleep should be considered when deciding which beverages to give to kids," Temple said.