Study Finds Toddlers Get Coffee From Parents, Despite Risks

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While caffeine and toddlers doesn’t sound like a good mix, 15 percent of parents say their 2 year olds are coffee drinkers, a study found.

Parents gave the toddlers an average of two tablespoons of coffee a day, with some getting as much as half a cup, according to research released Monday by doctors at Boston Medical Center. Most of the coffee-drinking tots had mothers who were born outside the U.S., were Hispanic and had less than a high school education.

While a caffeine-free “babyccino” has become popular in some parts of Brooklyn, New York, parents who give their children real coffee may be increasing their risk of depression, type 1 diabetes, poor sleep, substance abuse and obesity -- all of which research has associated with caffeine use in children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against caffeine for kids. A small segment of children got coffee as early as age 1. While researchers didn’t examine why mothers gave their babies coffee, Hispanic mothers were 15 times as likely than non-Hispanic mothers to give the beverage.

The study, published this month in the Journal of Human Lactation, looked at data on the diets of 315 mothers and their babies in the Boston area, collected as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded study. The study wasn’t initially designed to measure caffeine intake, but researchers added a question on it after finding a surprising number of mothers who voluntarily reported giving coffee to their one-year-olds.

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