Just Say No to Kids and Caffeine

An alarming story is making headlines today: The death of a 14-year-old after consuming two Monster energy drinks in 24 hours. This is the latest of five deaths associated with the popular energy drink. The FDA is currently investigating the deaths as well as a non-fatal heart attack to determine cause.

According to an AP report, the teen died of "cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. She had an inherited disorder that can weaken blood vessels."

Monster is one of a host of energy drinks that are popular among teens and tweens. These products, which represent the fastest growing U.S. beverage market, are super-charged with caffeine and sugar. While they may bring a brief spike in energy and alertness, young bodies can also suffer serious consequences.

According to Le Bonheur pediatrician John Hill, who weighed in on the subject for Le Bonheur's Practical Parenting blog, symptoms caused by too much caffeine can include trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, increased bedwetting at night, an increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure.

High school athletes who have consumed them before practice have reported feeling jittery, unfocused, and dehydrated. And adolescents with diabetes, seizures, and heart problems can be especially compromised.

Although few studies have been done to determine the exact effects of caffeine on children, the message to parents should be clear. Kids do best with drinks that provide nutrition and hydration. Have your child drink milk, water, fruit juice, or sports drinks. Leave the caffeine drinks for adulthood.

To learn more, go to ABC's story on energy drink health risks for children.

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