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Prepubescent Kids Drinking Coffee Could Hinder Brain Development

Update Date: Sep 24, 2013 04:14 PM EDT

Coffee can be a very dicey beverage to deal with. Since it is considered an addictive drug to a certain extent, coffee, which contains caffeine, could lead to certain undesirable side effects. Even though a coffee addiction might not be as extreme as drug addiction, studies have found that an excessive amount of caffeine could be highly detrimental. On top of that, recent numbers reveal a growing number of children and young adults who are drinking caffeinated beverages. In a new study, researchers found that caffeine slowed down brain development for prepubescent mouse models.

For this study, the researchers headed by Reto Huber from the University Children's Hospital Zurich used mouse models to test the effect of caffeine on brain development. The researchers focused on the effects of coffee consumption particularly during puberty since that is when the body starts to change. Huber's team gave moderate amounts of caffeine to rats that were 30-days-old for five days in a row. The researchers measured the rats' electrical currents. The team compared the brain activity to the activity in rats that were given water to drink.

The team found that in brains of caffeinated rats, there were more neural connections. The researchers also found that the caffeinated rats were maturing at a much slower rate. The rats that were caffeinated were still timid and cautious when they should be more curious at that age.

The researchers believe that their findings could be used to predict the effects of caffeine for prepubescent kids. Researchers have seen an increase in children drinking caffeinated beverages and these findings suggest that more might need to be done to limit that amount.

The study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). It was published in PLOS ONE.

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