Caffeine Could Slow Brain Development In Teenagers, Study Says

The effect of caffeine has been an ongoing debate, and a recent study only adds more fuel to the fire by suggesting that caffeine consumed by teenagers could slow their brain development during puberty.

According to MSN Now, a new study at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich suggests that caffeine might be slowing the development of adolescent brains.

According to the Examiner, the study, which was backed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), stated that when pubescent rats were administered caffeine, the maturing processes in their brains was delayed.

“Researchers led by Reto Huber of the University Children’s Hospital Zurich say in pubescent rodents, caffeine intake equaling three to four cups of coffee per day in humans results in reduced deep sleep and delayed brain development.”

States Chronicles stated that scientists say, both in humans and in rats, the duration and intensity of deep sleep as well as the number of synapses or connections in the brain increases during childhood and reaches their highest level during puberty.

“The brain of children is extremely plastic due to the many connections,” said lead author Reto Huber.

He continues on to say that when the brain then begins to mature during puberty, a large number of these connections are lost.

The SNSF released a press release that stated the rats that had consumed caffeine had reduced deep sleep periods well after the caffeine had been given to them.

They continued on to say that the pubescent rats showed different behavioral reactions. The rats who had consumed pure drinking water became more curious with age while the rats who had consumed the caffeine remained more timid and cautious.

Could scientists have another reason to tell teens to avoid coffee and the ever popular energy drinks? And could caffeine cause slow brain development in teens?

This study seems to suggest that, though Huber went on to say “there is still need for research in this area.”

[photo credit: Sylvain_Latouche via photopin cc]