Energy Drinks Pose Risks To Kids

A new report warns that popular <"">energy drinks are being overused and not adequately studied. What’s more, the ubiquitous beverages can be dangerous to children and teenagers; children should not drink them, reported The Associated Press (AP).

According to the AP, the drinks’ caffeine and other energy ingredients can lead to Energy Drink health effects such as “heart palpitations, seizures, strokes … even sudden death,” wrote the AP, citing the authors, who wrote in the medical journal, Pediatrics. For their study, the doctors reviewed government information as well as information from “interest groups, scientific literature, case reports, and articles in popular and trade media,” said the AP.

One teen described a seizure and five-day hospital stay that he and his physician believe were linked to caffeine or similar ingredients in two energy drinks he consumed, wrote the AP. According to the study, some of the drinks contain somewhere between four and five times as much caffeine than in soda and, with kids drinking several of these daily, there could be problems, said the AP.

“We would discourage the routine use” by children and teens, said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, pediatrics chairman at the University of Miami’s medical school, quoted the AP, which noted that Dr. Lipshultz is among the group that authored the report.

According to the report, the drinks can lead to a shaky feeling and can also cause diarrhea and nausea and should, says the report, be regulated in the same way as tobacco, prescription drugs, and alcohol, noted the AP. “For most children, adolescents, and young adults, safe levels of consumption have not been established,” the report said, quoted the AP.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers began tracking overdoses overseas and side effects in the United States starting late last year, and revealed that from October to December, 677 cases were reported. Since January, there have been 331 reports, with most involving children and teenagers, with most children under six years of age, wrote the AP. The Center lists “seizures, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, chest pain, high blood pressure, and irritability,” among the side effects linked to high energy drinks, added the AP.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is expected to release a clinical report on the drinks with possible physician guidelines, said the AP. Dr. Marcie Schneider, an adolescent medicine specialist and member of the Academy’s nutrition committee said, “These drinks have no benefit, no place in the diet of kids,” quoted the AP.

Meanwhile, concerning high energy alcoholic beverages, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to four companies concerning the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic drinks, saying that some major brands should be removed from sale by mid-December. The FDA letters described the caffeine as an “unsafe additive,” and indicate that further action, including seizure of their Defective Products, is possible under federal law. The letter also indicated that the caffeine-alcohol mix can lead to a “wide-awake drunk” and have been linked to “alcohol poisoning, car accidents, and assaults,” wrote the Las Vegas Sun. Warning letters were sent to Charge Beverages Corp., New Century Brewing Co., Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.), and United Brands Company Inc..

Of note, experts have raised concerns that caffeine can mask some sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication. The FDA said peer-reviewed studies suggest that the consumption of beverages containing added caffeine and alcohol is associated with risky behaviors that may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations.

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