Baltimore Sun

Study: Energy drinks could pose serious health risks to children

Packed with harmful levels of caffeine, energy drinks offer no therapeutic benefit and may put some children and young adults at risk of health problems, according to a study published today in the journal Pediatrics.

Energy drink overdose -- causing a small body to ingest too much caffeine and ingredients such as taurine and guarana -- could lead to stroke, seizure and even sudden death, particularly in youth with health problems such as diabetes, cardiac abnormalities or behavior disorders, the study found.

Because the drinks are marketed as nutritional supplements, they aren't subject to the same caffeine limits on soft drinks or the safety testing of medicines, the authors write. And many drinks include ingredients that aren't regulated or haven't been sufficiently studied, they said.


Researchers at the University of Miami came to their conclusions after a review of published articles -- from medical journals, newspapers and trade publications.

Young people make up about half of the huge energy drink market and somewhere between 30 percent to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks, according to background information in the study. Since energy drinks are often marketed to young people, doctors should screen their young patients for their use and work to educate parents and children of the potential harms, the authors write.


Folks at the American Beverage Association told the AP that the report is simply spreading misinformation.

Nevertheless, researchers have expressed concerns about the high levels of caffeine in such drinks before. I wrote a few years back about a Johns Hopkins study in which the author said the drinks should come with labels warning of the possible health risks.

The new study comes on the heels of some local governments banning caffeine-infused alcohol drinks, after federal warnings that they pose health risks. While this study doesn't specifically take on this class of drinks, it mentions that coupling energy drinks with alcohol could only intensify the risks.

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