Energy drinks can be deadly for children, adolescents

While it may seem harmless to pop open a can of Red Bull or Monster for the energy jolt to keep studying, working or driving, it’s not right for everyone.

A South Carolina 16-year-old tragically died in May after consuming a cafe latte and a large Mountain Dew at lunch and then chugging a 16-ounce energy drink once back in art class.

The coroner said the death was caused by a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.”

“I’m not saying that you’re going to die because you have an energy drink,” the coroner told The Washington Post. “It's not the level of caffeine in his system, but the amount of caffeine he took in … in that short period of time affected his heart.”

From 2005 to 2011, the Washington Post reports, energy drink-related emergency room visits rose from about 1,500 yearly to nearly 21,000, including high rates in kids under 6 years old.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggested in 2011 that energy drinks “should never be consumed by children and adolescents,” the Washington Post reports.

The Food and Drug Administration has imposed a limit of 71 milligrams of caffeine on a 12-ounce soda, but no limits have been placed on energy drinks. While Red Bull contains about the same amount of caffeine as a typical cup of coffee, the Washington Post points out that energy drinks are widely marketed to adolescents, unlike coffee, which puts kids at risk of overdoing it with potentially deadly cardiovascular and neurological consequences.

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