In a small but extremely detailed double-blinded study of first grade children, researchers have found caffeinated colas produced an increase in behavior problems while also impairing learning ability as a result of restlessness, hyperactivity, and inattention. These findings were presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.
On days when the children were exposed to caffeinated cola drinks, behavioral tests indicated that there was a significant increase in hyperactivity, restlessness, and inattention. On caffeine-free days the children demonstrated far less problematic behavior. These results are consistent with prior findings and strongly support the conclusion that a childÃs dietary caffeine should be restricted. School systems should also consider taking a more active role in overseeing what types of products are available to students from vending machines placed in schools by outside vendors.
Finally, the study underscores the importance of a complete evaluation of young children who exhibit behavioral and emotion problems including their dietary habits and intake of caffeinated beverages. While screening procedures for anxiety disorders, pediatric insomnia, and ADHD typically include questions concerning caffeine consumption, the findings of this study are a strong reminder to those conducting such inquiries not to neglect this very important aspect of the evaluation.