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Children's National Physician Looks at Effects of Energy Drinks and Caffeine Consumption on Sleep, Mood, and Performance in Children

Washington, DC – Pediatrician and sleep medicine specialist at Children’s National Health System, Judith Owens, MD, says despite increased consumption of energy drinks, there remain knowledge gaps on the health impacts of caffeine on the adolescent and young adult population. Dr. Owens led a review of the effects of caffeinated products on sleep, mood, and performance in children and adolescents in a special supplement to the journal Nutrition Reviews. 

The article explores the effects of caffeine consumption in children, particularly through energy drinks. According to the authors, in the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics has addressed the risks of energy drink consumption but with limited mention of the effects on sleep, mood, and performance. 

Dr. Owens hopes the article creates a larger conversation around caffeine use in the child and adolescent population. The authors note that “the increasing availability of highly caffeinated beverages, including energy drinks, in the United States, has resulted in a rise in consumption by children and adolescents.”

“It is critical that further research be conducted to understand not only how much, but also how and why energy drinks are being used in the pediatric population,” says Dr. Owens. “In addition to the research, we need to understand more about why kids use caffeine and whether there are populations that are particularly vulnerable to the use of caffeine.” 

Existing research studies caffeine’s effects on alertness level in young adults but according to Dr. Owens the research focuses on caffeine drinks with a much lower concentration. 

Dr. Owens says one of the key takeaways is that parents and pediatricians should begin having conversations with teens about caffeine use. She suggests, “Parents should have a discussion with their teens about caffeine, whether they use it, what their understanding of the potential risks is, and if they’re making assumptions like drinking caffeine and driving despite being drowsy.”

Jodi Mindell, PhD, a pediatric sleep psychologist at St. Joseph’s University, and Allison Baylor of Children’s National also contributed to the article. The issue on caffeine is part of a National Institutes of Health-sponsored supplement to Nutrition Reviews.

Contact: Caitlyn Camacho at 202-476-4500.

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