Energy drinks may present significant health risks for children, especially those with mood and behavior disorders, diabetes, seizures or cardiac abnormalities, according to pediatric researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
The researchers determined that energy drinks offer no health benefits to children; furthermore, the properties of the ingredients — both known and unknown — combined with toxicity reports, may present a negative health risk.
Young people account for half of the energy drink market, and based on surveys, 30 to 50 percent of adolescents drink them. These beverages contain a variety of stimulants, whose consumption levels have not yet been established for this age group.
“Until further research establishes their safety, routine energy drinks usage by children and teen-agers should be discouraged,” said Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., professor and chair of pediatrics and senior author of the study.
“We wanted to raise awareness about the risks. Our systematic review suggests that these drinks have no benefit and should not be a part of the diet of children and teens. We need long-term research to define maximum safe doses of these beverages and the effects of chronic use, especially in at-risk populations.”
The authors add that because energy drinks are often marketed to athletes and at-risk young adults, it is important for physicians to screen patients for excessive use of these drinks both alone and in combination with alcohol, and to educate those who may be at risk for energy drink overconsumption, which can result in seizures, stroke and even sudden death.
The lead author of the study was third-year Miller School medical student Sara M. Seifert, who took on the project to help benefit children’s health.
“Numerous reports are appearing in the popular media, and there are a handful of case reports in the scientific literature that associate energy drinks with serious adverse events,” said Seifert.
“Additionally, many schools, states and countries have started regulating or banning energy drink content or sales to children, adolescents and young adults. In the face of such reports, it seemed prudent to investigate the validity of such claims.”
The study is published online in the journal Pediatrics.
Source: University of Miami