Caffeine withdrawal in normal school-age children

Gail A. Bernstein, Marilyn E. Carroll, Nicole Walters Dean, Ross D. Crosby, Amy R. Perwien, Neal L. Benowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


Objective: Caffeine is widely consumed by children around the world. The purpose of this study was to determine whether children manifest withdrawal effects after cessation of caffeine intake. Method: Thirty normal children completed the single-blind, within-subjects, repeated-measures study with weekly sessions. Subjects were tested four times: (1) baseline (on regular caffeine diet); (2) on caffeine (approximately 120 to 145 mg/day); (3) during withdrawal (24 hours after discontinuation of caffeine taken for 13 consecutive days); and (4) at return to baseline. Subjects were evaluated with self-report measures of symptoms and objective measures of attention, motor performance, processing speed, and memory. Results: During caffeine withdrawal, there was a significant deterioration on response time of a visual continuous performance test of attention. This finding is consistent with caffeine withdrawal. The deterioration in response time appeared to persist for 1 week. Conclusions: Twenty-four hours after children discontinued caffeine, there was a decrease in performance on reaction time of a task requiring sustained attention. Further work is indicated to determine whether children manifest caffeine withdrawal effects after cessation of caffeine intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-865
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Caffeine
  • Normal children
  • Substance withdrawal syndrome

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