Poison control data show energy drinks and young kids don't mix

November 16, 2014

More than 40 percent of reports about energy drinks to U.S. poison control centers involved children younger than 6 with some suffering serious cardiac and neurological symptoms, according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

This disproportionate representation of children is concerning given the number of reports of serious cardiac and neurological symptoms, said Steven Lipshultz, M.D., the study's senior author and professor and chair of pediatrics at Wayne State University and pediatrician-in-chief at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

Researchers analyzed October 2010-September 2013 records of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System, which contains information calls about energy exposures from the public and healthcare providers to 55 poison control centers in the United States. "Exposures" are defined as actual or suspected contact with any substance which has been ingested, inhaled, absorbed, applied to, or injected into the body, regardless of toxicity or clinical manifestation. Researchers found: "Energy drinks have no place in pediatric diets," "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."

He noted that he is not a toxicologist but was interested in the topic after treating children who became ill after consuming energy drinks.

Energy drinks may contain pharmaceutical-grade caffeine and additional caffeine from natural sources that may cause the heart to race and blood pressure to increase. Energy drinks with multiple caffeine sources were tied to a higher rate of side effects, typically involving the nervous, digestive or cardiovascular systems.

Some energy drinks contain up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per can or bottle, compared to 100-150 mg in a typical cup of coffee, Lipshultz said.

Caffeine poisoning can occur at levels higher than 400 mg a day in adults; above 100 mg a day in adolescents; and at 2.5 mg per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight in children younger than 12, he said.

Researchers don't yet know whether compounds other than caffeine in the drinks contribute to the ill effects. Many of the added ingredients have never been tested for safety in children and have never been tested in combination.

In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned pre-packaged energy drinks that contain alcohol. Since then, calls to poison control centers about such drinks fell sharply, which supports the effectiveness of the combination ban. But some people might custom mix alcohol-energy brews, Lipshultz said.

Reports to poison control centers vastly underestimate the problem because many people who become ill from energy drinks don't call the hotlines and emergency room visits are not included.

"The reported data probably represent the tip of the iceberg," Lipshultz said.

Researchers called for improved labeling of caffeine content and potential health consequences, as well as continued efforts to decrease children's exposures to the products.
-end-
Co-authors of the study are Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

Additional Resources:

  • Downloadable video/audio interviews, B-roll, animation and images related to this news release are on the right column of the release link http://newsroom.heart.org/news/poison-control-data-show-energy-drinks-and-young-kids-dont-mix?preview=c163b6f0847be86461f9cecf1a778ab8

  • Video clips with researchers/authors of the studies will be added to the release link after embargo.

  • Call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222. It is free and confidential.

  • For more news from the AHA's Scientific Sessions, follow us on Twitter @HeartNews #AHA14.

    Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

    Note: Actual presentation is 11:15 a.m. CT/12:15 p.m. ET Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 (S102d, Core 3).

    For Media Inquiries:

    AHA News Media in Dallas: (214) 706-1173

    AHA News Media Office, Nov. 15-19,

    at the McCormick Place Convention Center: (312) 949-3400

    For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

    heart.org and strokeassociation.org

    Life is why we fund scientific breakthroughs that save and improve lives.

    American Heart Association

    Related Caffeine Articles from Brightsurf:

    Caffeine boosts problem-solving ability but not creativity, study indicates
    Want to boost creativity? Caffeine may not be the way to go according to a news study by U of A psychologist Darya Zabelina.

    Using caffeine as a tool to study information processing
    Researchers are using caffeine to study how the brain processes information, and a new study shows the effectiveness of this approach.

    More electronic device use tied to more sugar and caffeine in teens
    The study, published today in PLOS ONE, found that more than 27% of teens exceed recommended sugar intake and 21% exceed recommended caffeine from soda and energy drinks.

    Too much caffeine during pregnancy may damage baby's liver
    Having too much caffeine during pregnancy may impair baby's liver development and increase the risk of liver disease in adulthood, according to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology.

    Algorithm provides customized caffeine strategy for alertness
    A web-based caffeine optimization tool successfully designs effective strategies to maximize alertness while avoiding excessive caffeine consumption, according to preliminary results from a new study.

    Caffeine gives solar cells an energy boost
    Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Solargiga Energy in China have discovered that caffeine can help make a promising alternative to traditional solar cells more efficient at converting light to electricity.

    Caffeine on the mind? Just seeing reminders of coffee can stimulate our brain
    A new University of Toronto study finds that just seeing reminders of coffee can arouse us, causing our minds to be more alert and attentive.

    More caffeine from coffee associated with decreased rosacea risk
    Consuming caffeine from coffee but not from other foods (tea, soda and chocolate) was associated with less risk of rosacea, a common chronic inflammatory skin disease where the skin appears red and flushed.

    Caffeine from four cups of coffee protects the heart with the help of mitochondria
    A new study shows that a caffeine concentration equivalent to four cups of coffee promotes the movement of a regulatory protein into mitochondria, enhancing their function and protecting cardiovascular cells from damage.

    New report suggests three main groups of caffeine sensitivity
    Coffee drinkers fall into one of three major groups based on their caffeine sensitivity, according to physician and author Dr J.W.

    Read More: Caffeine News and Caffeine Current Events
  • Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.