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Energy Drinks Pose Health Threat to Kids

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A new study shows that energy drinks can be dangerous when consumed by younger children. The study, which was recently published by the American Heart Association, says that there were more than 5,000 energy drink-related calls to poison control centers last year.

Researchers found that almost half (40 per cent) of the 5,156 calls to poison centers for “energy drink exposure” involved kids aged 6 and under. According to the study, in the vast majority of these cases a child consumed an energy drink without consulting their parents first. Reported side effects included abnormal heart activity and seizures.

Dr. Steven Lipshultz, who authored the study’s report, says more research needs to be done on how energy drinks affect young children. Lipshultz, a professor of pediatrics at Wayne State University in Michigan, says studies have shown that consuming only 100 milligrams of caffeine can present health problems to a teenager. However, it’s not clear to anyone how much caffeine children can consume before their health is endangered.

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

For the record, many energy drinks contain 300 milligrams of caffeine. These drinks also include “natural” ingredients that many health experts don’t fully understand.

Dr. Laurence Sperling, medical director of the preventive cardiology center at Atlanta’s Emory Healthcare, says the study shows more research needs to be done on caffeine consumption among young people. “It further points out that we need to be very responsible about who utilizes energy drinks, because they are potentially harmful to adults, but as this report points out, may be of greater concern to those who are young,” Sperling said.

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