You may be sharing your morning caffeine buzz with an unexpected fellow. A new study shows that approximately 15 percent of the babies in Boston are consuming around 4 ounces of coffee every day. That’s about half a cup, which is occasionally more than what I drink on the average morning. Now think about that amount in the body of someone one-quarter my size, and you’ll get a sense of the effects that could have on these kids.
This study, conducted by Boston Medical Center, is only looking at infants and mothers in the Boston area, but researchers think it could be indicative of nationwide averages. They noted caffeine intake seemed to correlate most with mother ethnicity and child gender.
My first question was, how in the world did they come to these percentages? Did they put hidden cameras in consenting families’ houses and note every time a child was given coffee? Was coffee theft (aka a child stealing a sip from a parent’s cup on the sly) taken into consideration? These ideas would likely be too difficult (and unethical) to carry out. Fortunately the researchers had a much simpler way of gathering data.
They looked at numbers from another study on infant weight gain and diet, which involved 315 mother-infant pairs, and dissected what the infants were consuming and how much. They were surprised to come across a significant number of pairs that denoted coffee as one of the liquids the infants were regularly imbibing. According to the study, “The rate of coffee consumption reported was 2.5 percent of children. At two years, that number increased to just above 15 percent, and the average daily consumption for these children was 1.09 ounces.”
Overall, Hispanic mothers were more likely to give their children coffee, and female infants had higher rates of coffee consumption than males. Let’s face it: Female infants need that boost to help them get through their busier schedules. While there are currently few studies on the effects coffee may have on an infant’s health, the effects reported on older children, teens and young adults are worrisome enough to inspire more research.
According to previous studies, coffee and caffeine have been linked with depression, Type 1 diabetes, sleep disturbances and substance abuse. Boston Medical Center also did one study that showed the chances for a child to become obese tripled in 2-year-olds who drank tea and/or coffee between meals and/or at bedtime. That’s a pretty eye-opening statistic.
Given the fact that coffee consumption is significantly higher in infants and toddlers who are of Hispanic descent leads researchers to believe that culture plays a significant part in their results. Some international studies exhibit this same trend in countries like Cambodia, Australia and Ethiopia, where child coffee consumption is more common. This also makes sense, considering how health obsessed our country is by comparison.
While nationwide numbers on child coffee consumption are still relatively unknown, CBS reported a study conducted in 2014 by Pediatrics that found nearly 63 percent of American children ages 2 to 5 consume at least some caffeine. And even though that percentage has more to do with soda intake rather than coffee, caffeine’s caffeine.