Study: Caffeine Doesn’t Make Children’s Bed-Wetting Worse

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It’s certainly not news that children are drinking more soda today than they ever have. That also means they’re consuming much more caffeine, whether from carbonated beverages or sports drinks. Which might also mean that more youngsters are finding it harder to make it through the night without wetting the bed, right?

According to a new report, that may not necessarily be the case. The analysis, which involved 201 parents reporting on the drinking habits of their 5-to-7-year-olds, revealed some surprising information about how much caffeine youngsters are guzzling down, and how it affects bed-wetting. (More on Four Loko Lawsuit: Did Caffeinated Alcohol Cause Death?)

While the U.S. currently does not have guidelines for the appropriate amount of caffeine that youngsters should be consuming, other countries do, and Canadian health experts, for example, recommend that children drink no more than the equivalent of one can of caffeinated soda a day.

In the new study, led by Dr. William Warzak at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, children between 5 and 7 years old downed an average of 52 mg of caffeine daily, or about the amount in slightly more than a can of soda. Older children consumed more, reaching the equivalent of nearly three cans of soda.

The caffeine, however, did not correspond do a greater incidence of bed-wetting. “We were surprised by that,” says Warzak, who has studied the causes of bed-wetting and wanted to document what relationship caffeine might have. “I had anticipated that there would be a positive relationship because everybody said there was.” (More on A Man Dies After Overdosing on Caffeine)

Caffeine does work as a diuretic, an effect that has been shown in adults, but Warzak notes that there is little evidence documenting caffeine’s effect on children. And just because this particular study did not find a positive relationship between the two doesn’t mean that caffeine does not promote urination in youngsters. For example, the researchers did not ask the parents when their children consumed their last caffeinated beverage before going to bed. Presumably, he says, parents would limit their youngsters’ liquid intake before bed-time, particularly if they were prone to bed-wetting.

So does it make sense to curb your child’s caffeine intake? Despite the results of his study, Warzak believes that might still be a good idea. “The real take home message is that the effects of caffeine on young children are pretty much unknown, and not well researched, but there aren’t any children that need caffeine,” he says. “It might be a good idea for pediatricians or family practice doctors to screen for how much caffeine children drink. It also makes intuitive sense to cut back on caffeinated beverages, especially with kids with a bed-wetting problem.”

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