Energy drinks have gained a lot of popularity in the last few decades. However, scientists suggest that energy drinks and young children do not mix well and energy drinks may cause seizures and heart problems in kids.
According to a new study presented by the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014, 40 percent cases reported to U.S. poison control centers related to energy drinks are regarding children aged 6 years or younger.
Dr. Steven Lipshultz, a professor and chair of pediatrics at Wayne State University and pediatrician-in-chief at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, who is also a senior author of the study, revealed that between October 2010 and September 2013 the team analyzed data collected from 55 poison control centers in the U.S.
Serious side effects in many cases included heart rhythms being irregular, seizures and extremely high blood pressure. Children under age 6 are believed to have consumed the drink unknowingly. Dr. Lipshultz suggests that the affected children did not go to any stores to buy energy drinks. These children found the energy drink stored in a refrigerator or left behind by a sibling or a parent.
Healthcare professionals believe that children as well as adults who suffer from underlying medical risk factors like seizure disorder, tendency of high and irregular blood pressure and arrhythmia should avoid energy drinks. Parents should inform caregivers about any medical factors about their children so that caregivers do not give energy drinks to kids.
"Energy drinks have no place in pediatric diets," says Dr. Lipshultz.
The study highlights that a regular cup of coffee contains about 100 to 150 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. However, some energy drinks available in the market may contain about 400 mg of caffeine per bottle or can.
Dr. Lipshultz reveals that caffeine poisoning may occur if an adult consumes over 400 mg of caffeine per day. However, this level reduces in children, which is just over 100 mg each day for adolescents and at 2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight in kids who are younger than 12 years.
The study suggests that other compounds barring caffeine in the energy drinks may also be responsible for the side effects of these drinks. Many ingredients in the drinks may have not been tested for health safety in children at all by health agencies. These compounds have also not been tested in combination to find their effects on young children.
The research calls for improved and clear labeling on energy drinks that also highlights the consequences to adults and children.