Revista Española de Nutrición Humana y Dietética (2020-12-01)

Physiological and cognitive effects of caffeine in childhood: A systematic review of the literature

  • Yeyetzi Citlali Torres-Ugalde,
  • Angélica Romero-Palencia,
  • Alma Delia Román-Gutiérrez

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 24, no. 4
pp. 345 – 356


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Introduction: Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychostimulant worldwide. Its use among children is controversial: Although it produces an increase in brain activity, it could hamper growth and development in young consumers. The objective of this review was to identify the physical and cognitive effects of caffeine consumption in children. Material and methods: Details of the protocol for this systematic review were registered on PROSPERO and can be accessed at The search engines used were EBSCO, ScienceDirect, Pub Med and Clarivate analytics. Eligible subjects were under 12 years of age with intake or administration of caffeine and who manifested physical or cognitive changes. Results: Out of the 5,453 articles initially found, 20 experimental or observational studies (cross-sectional and longitudinal) were selected for this review, following the PRISMA methodology. Conclusions: The results obtained show that the consumption of caffeine in this population could cause alterations in growth, producing alterations in the sleep cycle due to interference in the secretion of growth hormone. On the other hand, cognitive performance was better in children with a history of caffeine citrate use in apnea of prematurity. In paidopsychiatric disorders, evidence was found that caffeine produces a better distribution of brain energy, although it may exacerbate symptoms in ADHD and autism.