Caffeine intake by children and teens has increased in recent years, mostly due to caffeinated sodas and energy drinks. Past research has shown that caffeine increases blood pressure and decreases heart rate in children, teens and adults. But questions remain whether caffeine's impact changes as children move into puberty.
The study, "Cardiovascular Responses to Caffeine by Gender and Pubertal Stage," appearing in the July 2014 Pediatrics (published online June 16) examines whether developmental stages change how caffeine affects children and teens.
Researchers found that before puberty, caffeine affected both boys and girls the same. However, after puberty, gender differences emerge. While both boys and girls are still affected by caffeine, the research suggests that girls experience different heart rate and blood pressure changes than do boys and also experience some differences during their menstrual cycles.
The authors call for further research to determine if gender differences in cardiovascular responses to caffeine are related to physiological factors, such as hormones, or psychosocial factors, such as difference in patterns of caffeine use or caffeine use among peers.