Watch Those “Energy” Drinks: They Can Harm Children
So-called “energy” drinks are increasingly popular. Manufacturers pocketed more than $12 billion from sales last year, for instance. Although they’re marketed to adults, these stimulant beverages in a can contain enough caffeine to send a small child to the emergency room. Heart palpitations and seizures are among the worst potential side effects. Others include anxiety, sleeplessness, agitation, nausea and vomiting.
These drinks are laced with large doses of caffeine. While they might make an adult feel jittery, small children and even adolescents can get an overdose fairly quickly. Last year, a 19-year-old boy suffered cardiac arrest after consuming high-caffeine beverages. His mother alleges his heart problems were triggered by the teens’ daily consumption of two cans of energy drinks daily, for three years. The previous year, a 14-year-old girl died of a caffeine overdose after drinking just two Monster beverages in 24 hours.
According to the journal, Pediatrics, up to half of all teens drink caffeinated canned beverages, such as Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster. Some of these drinks supply more than twice as much caffeine as an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee. Problems occur most often among regular energy-drink consumers, but according to a recent report in Clinical Toxicology, about half of all cases of energy drink-related poisonings have occurred in children under the age of six. Most of these cases involved “unintentional exposure.” Clearly, if you allow these products into your home, it’s important to take steps to prevent small children from gaining access to them.
Seifert SM, Seifert SA, Schaechter JL, Bronstein AC, Benson BE, Hershorin ER, et al. An analysis of energy-drink toxicity in the National Poison Data System. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2013 Aug;51(7):566-74. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2013.820310.