Caffeine: different for boys and girls

By Morgan Sherburne • Published: September 2nd, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The myth has been debunked: Caffeine does not actually stunt a child’s growth. But it might affect boys and girls in different ways.

Caffeine is widely available to children, now more than ever thanks to the proliferation of energy drinks. And when children ingest caffeine, their bodies respond in different ways.

A study from the University of Buffalo measured heart rate and blood pressure both before and after participants were dosed with either a placebo or two doses of caffeine. The caffeine doses measured between one and two milligrams per kilogram of weight.

According to the study, boys tend to have a greater response to caffeine. Girls’ responses to the stimulant varied depending on whether they were post-puberty and the phase of their menstrual cycle.

During the phase of women’s menstrual cycle called the follicular phase, follicles within the ovary mature. Midway through this phase, when a girl ingests caffeine, her blood pressure tends to increase more than during any other time of the month.

However, after ovulation, girls who ingest caffeine had greater decreases in heart rate.

However, prior to puberty, kids did not display any difference in their reaction to caffeine, regardless of gender.

The study included groups of pre-puberty boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 9, and post-puberty teens between 15 and 17.

Next, researchers plan to study whether hormone levls in the blood play into these reactions. They also plan to study how caffeine use by peers and control over the kinds of beverages children purchase affect their reactions.

Although caffeine may not cause problems with growth as scientists once feared, other beverages are still a healthier option for kids. Milk is packed with vitamins, minerals and protein, all good for kids. Water is a healthy option, too.