Pediatric Group Says Kids Shouldn’t Have Energy Drinks

An emerging American Academy of Pediatrics position paper warns that children should not typically need to drink sports drinks and they should never drink <"">high-octane energy drinks, reports WebMD. The report notes that these drinks can be dangerous to children because of the risks linked to caffeine and stimulants generally found in these drinks. The report is published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics.

“All of us get a lot of questions about sports and energy drinks and we knew this topic was a Pandora’s box,” said study co-author Marcie Beth Schneider, MD, a pediatrician at Greenwich Adolescent Medicine in Greenwich, Connecticut, quoted WebMD. “Sports drinks and energy drinks are different types of drinks,” she added.

Generally, sports drinks are composed of carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, flavoring, and calories, said WebMD, and are meant to replace water and electrolytes spent through extreme exercise and expelled in sweat; energy drinks contain stimulants such as guarana, taurine, and caffeine, which is added in large amounts, some more than 100 milligrams. The report mentions Accelerade, All Sport Body Quencher, Gatorade, Powerade, Full Throttle, Monster Energy, Power Trip, Red Bull, and Rockstar, wrote WebMD.

Power drinks “… have stimulants and should not be confused with sport drinks at all,” Schneider said. WebMD noted that caffeine’s side effects are increased heart rate, blood pressure, speech, and anxiety levels as well as insomnia. “Caffeine is addictive and just like adults, kids can have withdrawal,” she added, quoted WebMD. “Most sports drinks have calories and sugar which can lead to weight gain and dental erosion…. They have a limited use for specific kids and teen athletes involved in prolonged vigorous sports or other activities…. These drinks don’t need to be at lunchtime,” she noted.

According to Cynthia Pegler, MD, an adolescent medical specialist in Manhattan, “For most kids who do sports, water was the drink to encourage instead of all these other sugary drinks … the more kids learn to like the taste of water, the better it is for them,” quoted WebMD. “The real energy drinks are bad news…. Too much caffeine is not good for anybody and can lead to sleep problems, and if a child is also on a stimulant medicine to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you are now getting an extra whammy. This is not a good combination,” Dr. Pegler added.

We recently wrote that a relatively new report warned 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,” citing the authors writing in Pediatrics. The team reviewed government data and data from “interest groups, scientific literature, case reports, and articles in popular and trade media,” said the AP.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers began tracking overdoses from these products overseas, as well as tracking side effects in the United States. The tracking began late last year and revealed that from October to December, 677 cases were reported. From just January through mid-February, there were 331 reports, with most involving children and teenagers; the majority of the children were 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.

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