A group of physicians from the research institute of the Hospital 12 de Octobre, the European University of Madrid, Spain, the Academic Hospital of Parma (Italy) and Texas A&M University in 2014, collaborated on a study titled, “Energy Drink Over-consumption in Adolescents”.
Among its findings, noting that 46% of the reported 5,448 caffeine overdoses (as of 2014) were children under 19 years of age – the study disclosed that energy drinks and the caffeine levels they contain, produced:
“serious adverse effects … in child, adolescents, young adults with seizures, agitation, migraines, sleeplessness, dehydration, gastrointestinal disorders, arrhythmias and other cardiac events. Importantly, it has been recently demonstrated that ED’s (energy drinks) also induce a cumulative cardiovascular load and reduce cerebral blood flow even under mental stress”.
And in fact, U.S. News and World Report interviewed Dr. Fahad Ali, an internal medicine resident at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania, who told them that he saw a couple patients in recent years with the usual symptoms – chest pain, irregular heartbeat and, in one case, cardiac arrest – but without the usual causes. According to Ali, there were no clogged arteries, significant family history, complications from medications or illicit substance use. Both men were young and otherwise healthy. Then the doctors discovered a link. “We [dug] down more in the history and found that those patients were consuming energy drinks every day,” Ali says.
Another study conducted in France in 2015 titled, “Abuse of energy drinks: Does it pose a risk?” and published in La Presse Médicale, concluded that:
Repeated consumption of energy drinks increases the risk of somatic and psychiatric complications. Further studies must be controlled to improve our understanding of other possible negative consequences on health.
Any assessment of this category of products, should take the following into consideration:
- Energy drinks are not a controlled substance and are not age restricted for purchase, making them accessible to the children, adolescents and teens most at risk of abusing the product and experiencing the adverse health effects detailed in the above referenced studies.
- Energy drinks are just one in a wide category of products that parents need to familiarize themselves with and maintain awareness of in regard to their children’s access to. Children with generally negligent parents are at highest risk of abuse of energy drinks.
- Merely because medical and health authorities have branded a product “safe”, does not necessarily signify that its use is healthy. The ingredients in these products are complex and vary from product to product. It is your responsibility to know what you and especially your children, are consuming.
- Caffeine, whether it is found in coffee, soda pop, energy drinks, candy, tea or any other form, has been deemed in numerous studies to provide health benefits, but the caveat is that it is beneficial in moderate amounts. Adults are assumed (in some cases, perhaps wrongly) to be able to make informed decisions on what the reasonable and safe consumption of caffeine is. The same cannot be said of minors. Once again, this is where parental guidance plays a critical role.
A report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration documented that between 2007 and 2011, emergency room visits involving energy drinks doubled to more than 20,000.
Most recently – last month, a 16 year old in South Carolina died of caffeine overdose according to the autopsy report issued last week by Richland County coroner Gary Watts. In the press conference, Watts told the media,
The purpose here today is not to slam Mountain Dew, not to slam cafe lattes, or energy drinks. But what we want to do is to make people understand that these drinks — this amount of caffeine, how it’s ingested, can have dire consequences. And that’s what happened in this case.