Energy Drinks May Poison Young Children: Cardiac and Neurological Symptoms

First Posted: Nov 18, 2014 07:53 AM EST

Energy drinks have no place in a child's diet, according to a new study. More than 40 percent of reports about energy drinks to U.S. poison control centers involved children younger than six with some suffering serious cardiac and neurological symptoms.

In order to find out how energy drinks might be impacting children, the scientists analyzed October 2010 to September 2013 records of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System. This system contains information calls about energy exposures from the public and healthcare providers to 55 poison control centers in the United States.

So what did they find? Of the 5,156 reported cases of energy drink exposure, 40 percent were unintentional exposures by young children. Moderate to major outcomes were reported in 42 percent of cases involving energy drinks that had been mixed with alcohol and 19 percent of non-alcohol-containing energy drinks. In addition, cardiovascular effects were present in 57 percent of cases while neurologic effects were present in 55 percent of cases.

"Energy drinks have no place in pediatric diets," said Steven Lipshultz, one of the researchers, in a news release. "And anyone with underlying cardiac, neurologic or other significant medical conditions should check with their healthcare provider to make sure it's safe to consume energy drinks."

Energy drinks contain all kinds of caffeine-both pharmaceutical-grade and additional caffeine from natural sources. This can cause the heart to race and blood pressure to increase. Needless to say, this also makes it dangerous for children.

In addition, it's very possible that this problem could be underestimated. People who become ill from energy drinks don't necessarily call hotlines and emergency room visits are not included in the data.

The findings were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

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