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 journalArticlepeer-review

43 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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Accepted March 3, 1998. Dr. Bernstein is Associate Prof,,,r and Director, Division of Child and Adohscent Psychiany; Dr. Carroll is P~OJ%SODOeTp,a rtment of Psychiany; and Ms. Dean is a medical scudent at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis. Dr. Crosby is Director of Biomedical Statistics and Methodology, Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, ND. Ms. Perwien is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville. Dr. Benowitz is Pro9ssor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco. Presented at the 1996 meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolcsctnt Pychiaty. Supported in part 4 a Minnesota Medical Foundation grant. The TO. YA. Foundation provided the TO. VA,@ sojware. Reprint requests to Dr. Bernstein, Division of Child andAdokscent Pychiany, Box 95 FUMC, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. 0890-8567/98/3708-0858/$03.00/00 1998 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Caffeine
  • Normal children
  • Substance withdrawal syndrome

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