CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For many adults, coffee is a regular part of the day. But now, teens and tweens are also incorporating it into their regular routines.
Rylie O'Connor is like a lot of young teens. On most days, she grabs a cup before school.
"I need the energy in the morning," she said. "I have a lot of friends who drink coffee."
While research shows coffee might reduce the risk of stroke and Type 2 diabetes in adults, little has been studied about the impact on children.
Although caffeine is a drug, it's a very safe drug by FDA's standards. The stimulants impact the nervous system and can last in the body for up to eight hours.
NBC Charlotte anchor Sarah French spoke with Dr. Preeti Matkins about the possible problems that can present for teens.
"Caffeine can cause heart rate changes," Dr. Matkins said.
Coffee is also acidic, which translates to stained teeth.
"There's some evidence that caffeine can affect the development and foundation of the bones," she added.
But that's not the biggest problem.
"Sleep and getting enough sleep with scheduling and homework and things like are the real major issues for the children in the U.S.," Dr. Matkins said. "So adding a drug that potentially affects sleep is problematic and something that parents should consider."
"At school, it's just so much work and you need to be like focused when you're doing it," Rylie said.
Dr. Matkins said not so fast.
"Usually you think of it as helping concentration but in a child and depending on how much they take they can be negative for concentration," she said.
Too much caffeine from any source can be a real danger. A South Carolina teen died after drinking a 16-ounce energy drink, a latte and a large soda -- all within two hours.
Officials called his death a caffeine-induced cardiac event.
While Dr. Matkins does not recommend coffee for kids as there is no health benefit, she said the occasional single cup is not likely to have a harmful or serious impact.
"I don't know if I could get through the whole day without it," Rylie said.
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