Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Should young children consume caffeine?"
Can caffeine hurt little kids? My sister lets her daughter drink soda and red bull and she's only 8. Could it do damage to her body because shes so young?
A common misperception is that caffeine can harm the growth of children, and it does not. However, caffeine is a stimulant, and children are very sensitive to the stimulant effects. Therefore, too much caffeine intake in children can produce headache, mood problems, jitteriness, and trouble sleeping and concentrating. Therefore, it is best to avoid or limit caffeine intake in children. Furthermore, there are other problems with the types of beverages that contain caffeine. For example soda and red bull contain lots of sugar. These sugars are empty calories, and it is well established that children who drink soda are at much higher risk of becoming obese. Similarly, the excess sugars sit in the mouth and are digested by bacteria, which can lead to much higher rates of dental cavities and other tooth problems. Generally speaking, it is best to give children healthy, nutritious beverages like water and milk that do not have excess calories or stimulants. If your sister has more questions about this issue, this would be a perfect question for her to bring up the next time she takes her daughter in to the pediatrician's office for an annual checkup. Pediatrician are experts at providing nutrition recommendations to parents.