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Caffeine Consumption in Toddlers

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2008-12-07 04:36:12     
Article by Barbara Hillary, PhD

A common mistake is to think that decaffeinated coffee is caffeine-free. The decaffeination process removes about 97% of the caffeine, so that makes your cup of decaf coffee contain about 2-5 mg, an equivalent to the caffeine content of a cup of chocolate milk or two tablespoons of chocolate syrup (see table below), while a regular coffee contains 40-150 mg of caffeine.

Moderate caffeine consumption has not been shown to be harmful to adults or children. Studies have shown that moderate amounts of caffeine do not cause hyperactivity, or increase the risk of cancer, osteoporosis, or cardiovascular disease. Although in some cultures (i.e. Guatemala), coffee is introduced to children from a very early age, a child's caffeine consumption should be closely monitored.

Caffeine is a known mild stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Therefore, moderate intake may make children nervous, anxious, fidgety, frustrated, and quicker to anger. Caffeine is also a diuretic, which means it increases urination. This may pose a potential problem, especially in hot weather, as excessive urination may lead to dehydration when the lost fluid is not replaced by water.

Although a small amount of caffeine appears to be safe, moderate amounts of beverages with caffeine may be replacing nutrient-dense foods such as milk. A child may also eat less because caffeine acts as an appetite suppressant. Since it has no nutritional value to a growing child, its consumption should be restricted in diet of children of all ages.

Below, find a table with caffeine content of foods.

Caffeine Content of Foods

Item Caffeine (milligrams)*

Espresso, 2 oz. 40-170
Coffee, brewed by drip method, 5 oz. 60-180
Coffee, instant, 5 oz 30-120
Decaffeinated coffee, 5 oz. 2-5
Iced tea, 12 oz. 67-76
Brewed teas, 5 oz. 20-90
Decaffeinated or herbal teas, 5 oz. 0-1
Some dark carbonated beverages, 12 oz. can 30-46
Citrus flavored carbonated beverages, 12 oz. 0-65
Decaffeinated carbonated beverage, 12 oz. 0
Cocoa beverages, 5 oz. 2-20
Chocolate milk, 8 oz. 2-7
Milk chocolate, 1 oz. 1-15
Chocolate syrup, 2 tbs. 4
Semi-sweet chocolate, 1 oz. 5-35
Baking chocolate, 1 oz. 26

*Source: FDA Consumer, December 1987/January 1988. Caffeine content of beverages varies due to brewing method, plant variety and brand

Dr. Hillary is a pediatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree in health promotion and risk reduction. She works as a pediatric clinician and writes for Plugged in Parents. Plugged In Parents provides up-to-date info on pediatric health, safety and nutrition along with movie reviews, recipes, tech-savvy tips, and a parent's only forum. You can also contact Dr. Hillary for personal questions related to health and nutrition.

Please visit http://www.pluggedinparents.com

Specialized in: Parents Magazine - Parents Website - Parents Site - Parents Webpage - Parents Web Page - Child Safety - Vote Hillary 2008 - Easy Recipes - Family Budget - Plugged In Online - Tech Savvy - Car Buying - How To Save Money - Movie Reviews - Family Movie Reviews - Kids Movies - Plugged In Parents - Savvy Parents - Children - Pediatrics - Movies - Reviews
URL: http://www.pluggedinparents.com
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