Energy drinks: pediatric effects

February 18, 2011, 1:55 am

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Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Seifert SM et al. Pediatrics March 2011;127:511-528.

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Although the Food and Drug Administration regulates the amount of caffeine contained in sodas, it has no such authority over so-called “energy drinks”, which are officially considered dietary supplements. Some herbal components of these drinks — such as gaurana — contained additional amounts of caffeine and other stimulants that do not have to be listed on the label.

Caffeine overdose is associated with a variety of adverse effects including tachycardia, hypertension, anxiety, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and agitation.  More severe outcomes include hepatotoxicity, kidney failure, seizures, rhabdomyolysis, myocardial infarction, cardiac dysrhythmias, and death.

Although the authors did a literature search to identify articles related to energy drinks, they did not convince me that toxicity from these products is often a significant acute clinical problem in children.  At best they raise concerns about “potentially serious adverse effects in association with energy-drink use”.  But with 121 references, it will be a key resource for anyone interested in delving deeper into this topic.

Related post: Fatal caffeine overdose

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