Energy drinks are under-studied, overused and can be dangerous for children and teens, warns a report by doctors who say kids shouldn’t use the popular products.
The potential harms, caused mostly by too much caffeine or similar ingredients, include heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even sudden death, the authors write in the medical journal Pediatrics.
They reviewed data from the government and interest groups, scientific literature, case reports and articles in popular and trade media.
Dakota Sailor, 18, a high school senior in Carl Junction, Mo., says risks linked with energy drinks aren’t just hype.
Sailor had a seizure and was hospitalized for five days last year after drinking two large Nos energy drinks — a brand he’d never tried before. He said his doctor thinks caffeine or caffeine-like ingredients may have been to blame.
The report says some cans have four to five times more caffeine than soda, and Sailor said some kids he knows “drink four or five of them a day. That’s just dumb.”
The report’s authors want pediatricians to routinely ask patients and their parents about energy drink use and to advise against drinking them.
“We would discourage the routine use” by children and teens, said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, pediatrics chairman at the University of Miami’s medical school. He wrote the report with colleagues from that center.
The report says energy drinks often contain ingredients that can enhance the jittery effects of caffeine or that can have other side effects including nausea and diarrhea.
It says they should be regulated as stringently as tobacco, alcohol and prescription medicines.
“For most children, adolescents, and young adults, safe levels of consumption have not been established,” the report said.