Caffeine affects boys and girls differently after puberty, study finds

June 16, 2014

Caffeine intake by children and adolescents has been rising for decades, due in large part to the popularity of caffeinated sodas and energy drinks, which now are marketed to children as young as four. Despite this, there is little research on the effects of caffeine on young people.

One researcher who is conducting such investigations is Jennifer Temple, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Her new study finds that after puberty, boys and girls experience different and changes after consuming . Girls also experience some differences in caffeine effect during their menstrual cycles.

The study, "Cardiovascular Responses to Caffeine by Gender and Pubertal Stage," will be published online June 16 in the July 2014 edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Past studies, including those by this research team, have shown that caffeine increases blood pressure and decreases heart rate in children, teens and adults, including pre-adolescent boys and girls. The purpose here was to learn whether gender differences in cardiovascular responses to caffeine emerge after puberty and if those responses differ across phases of the menstrual cycle.

Temple says, "We found an interaction between gender and caffeine dose, with boys having a greater response to caffeine than girls, as well as interactions between pubertal phase, gender and caffeine dose, with gender differences present in post-pubertal, but not in pre-pubertal, participants.

"Finally," she says, "we found differences in responses to caffeine across the menstrual cycle in post-pubertal girls, with decreases in heart rate that were greater in the mid-luteal phase and blood pressure increases that were greater in the mid-follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.

"In this study, we were looking exclusively into the physical results of caffeine ingestion," she says. Phases of the menstrual cycle, marked by changing levels of hormones, are the follicular phase, which begins on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation, and the luteal phase, which follows ovulation and is marked by significantly higher levels of progesterone than the previous phase.

Future research in this area will determine the extent to which gender differences are mediated by physiological factors such as steroid hormone level or by differences in patterns of caffeine use, caffeine use by peers or more autonomy and control over beverage purchases, Temple says.

This double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response study was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.

It examined heart rate and blood pressure before and after administration of placebo and two doses of caffeine (1 and 2 mg/kg) in pre-pubertal (8- to 9-year-old; n = 52) and post-pubertal (15- to 17-year-old; n = 49) boys (n = 54) and (n = 47).

Explore further: New studies examine caffeine's effect on cognitive tasks, food pairing

Related Stories

New studies examine caffeine's effect on cognitive tasks, food pairing

April 22, 2013
Since 1977, there has been a 70% increase in caffeine consumption among children and adolescents. Whether it is coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks, our children are consuming more of it. One well documented effect of caffeine ...

Caffeine common in US kids, youths; mainly soda

February 10, 2014
Nearly 3 out of 4 U.S. children and young adults consume at least some caffeine, mostly from soda, tea and coffee. The rate didn't budge much over a decade, although soda use declined and energy drinks became an increasingly ...

Caffeine-based gold compounds are potential tools in the fight against cancer

February 26, 2014
The side effects of ingesting too much caffeine—restlessness, increased heart rate, having trouble sleeping—are well known, but recent research has shown that the stimulant also has a good side. It can kill cancer cells. ...

More research urgently needed on caffeine

September 9, 2013
Studies have shown that caffeine users can become dependent on or addicted to caffeine and may have difficulty reducing their consumption, as can occur with other drugs of dependence. A comprehensive review of the current ...

Recommended for you

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

alfie_null
not rated yet Jun 16, 2014
The food industry injects caffeine into many products where it might not be expected. The addictive properties are a convenient way to ensure their customers keep coming back for more of their products.

A requirement for prominent labeling would be nice. Something like those warning labels required on cigarette packs, not just an inclusion buried in the ingredient list. And I particularly wouldn't relieve manufacturers of this requirement should they choose only to list "natural" ingredients like Guarana to avoid having caffeine show up as an ingredient.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.