Caffeinism describes the symptoms which occur when individuals who regularly drink large amounts of caffeine suddenly stop. While generally mild, symptoms have been reported to include muscle twitching and heart palpitations. In the DSM-IV, there are several disorders listed specifically associated with the use of caffeine.
Pregnant women are usually recommended to reduce their intake of caffeine, although the precise amount differs from study to study. In a study performed by Kaiser Permanente it was reported that the intake of 200 mg of caffeine per day was a significant risk for miscarriage. Another study, however, in the same year denied any association between risk of miscarriage and caffeine intake.
In light of the differing scientific evidence, one would probably be prudent to avoid or at least limit the use of caffeine in pregnancy, or even for general health. When any substance can be associated with a withdrawal syndrome, I believe it is better to be moderate in intake to avoid any untoward effects.
2c. Should children be restricted from caffeine use? Why? Is this a matter for government involvement? Parental guidance? Explain
Caffeine is the only psychoactive substance which is legally available to children.
It can be used in a therapeutic manner, such as improving breathing in premature infants, or to improve concentration in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However, all the changes in mood and physical activity which adults experience from caffeine are also seen in children. As children are not used as subjects in pharmacological studies, there is no "safe" threshold for caffeine use in a child. It would not seem prudent, however, to attempt to restrict children from caffeine, since this would also restrict children from eating chocolate. Without good scientific evidence linking caffeine to a significant health hazard and demonstration of a significant public health issue associated with childhood caffeine intake, one should attempt to instruct individuals, especially parents, on potential risks of caffeine use in children and hope common sense would intervene.
Discuss your own personal intake of caffeine, reporting on any noticeable effects resulting from a substantial increase and/or decrease in the amount consumed. How do any of your mood and/or behavioral changes correspond to those reported in your textbook readings? What recommendations would you make?
A personally do not drink caffeine on a regular basis, although I have in the past. My greatest daily intake of caffeine was probably around 4 cups in a 24-hour period, the most usually in the early morning. I like to drink my coffee with a lot of cream, so this may mean I was getting less than the average 300 mg of caffeine this would equate to, but perhaps I am only kidding myself. When I would sleep later on the weekend, and not have my caffeine as early as I was used to on the weekend, I would often have a mild headache for a few hours but it usually did not require treatment. Alternatively, the few times I have had more than four cups of coffee in an 8-hour period, I have found myself to be jittery, more alert but somewhat irritable and if I have coffee after a certain time of night I find it very difficult to sleep. These moods sleep and behavior changes would seem to mirror that which is reported in my text book. I can say that when I cut back on my coffee, I did so in a rather abrupt manner, and I did not notice any significant withdrawal or cravings. I believe I cut back on caffeine because nutritionally it did nothing for me, and physically it was having a negative effect, so I chose to discontinue my intake. Additionally, it was very expensive to drink coffee from designer coffee shops, and I liked having the extra money that cutting back gave me.
No Author Listed, Kaiser Permanente Study Shows Newer, Stronger Evidence that Caffeine During Pregnancy Increases Miscarriage Risk, accessed on 15 May 2008