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Experts Warn About Dangers of Energy Drinks in Children

August 28, 2013 — Clinical Toxicology, the journal of American Poison Control Centers, has published a study on calls regarding energy drink side effects in children. Out of nearly 1,500 calls, 51% involved children under 6 who accidentally drank the products.

The researchers also identified case reports of major side effects, including:

  • Seizures
  • Heart problems
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Non-ventricular dysrhythmia
  • Ventricular dysrhythmia
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

Energy drinks, shots, sprays, foods, candy, gum, and other highly-caffeinated products have proliferated in the last few years. The industry generates nearly $10 billion in retail sales per year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is particularly concerned about the adverse effects of energy drinks in children. They are investigating several reports of deaths. According to a FDA Voice post by Michael R. Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods:

“By breaking far outside the traditional boundaries surrounding caffeine as a component of the food supply, these products pose challenging public health and regulatory questions. They stem from the fact that these products are being marketed explicitly for their stimulant properties, are prone to being consumed under a range of new and different conditions, and are providing caffeine in forms that are attractive and accessible to children and adolescents.

The American Beverage Association has responded to concern by restricting marketing of energy drinks to people under 18 years old. They have also banned sales and sampling of energy drinks in schools. Energy drink companies vigorously deny marketing their products to children. Even so, 20-30% of adolescents report consuming energy drinks on a regular basis.

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