Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Caffeine, whether consumed in sweet coffee drinks, energy drinks, or sodas, can have serious negative health effects on children and young teens, including high blood pressure and risk of heart disease. More from Today.com:
Even low doses of caffeine — equivalent to what you’d find in a half to a full can of soda or a cup of coffee — had an effect on kids’ blood pressure and heart rates.
And, interestingly, researchers found that the stimulant had more potent heart and blood pressure effects in boys than girls after puberty. The results were published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
It’s those kinds of cardiovascular effects that most worry experts, with some going so far as to say that they think caffeinated drinks should be eschewed until children hit their late teens.
“There are lots of things we can’t do because we’re not old enough or mature enough,” said Dr. Kevin Shannon, a professor of pediatric cardiology and director of pediatric arrhythmia at the Mattel Children’s Hospital of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Caffeine should probably be added to that list.”
The new study examined the effects of low doses of caffeine in 52 children aged 8-9 and 49 children aged 15-17. In the younger kids, gender made no difference. But in the older group, the stimulant’s effects were felt more strongly by the boys.
Caffeine slowed heart rates and increased blood pressure in all the children. Though the slowed heart rate might sound counterintuitive, it’s not a new finding, said the study’s lead author Jennifer Temple, an associate professor at the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.
At low doses the heart slows down to compensate for rising blood pressure, Temple explained. At higher doses, the heart speeds up.
“This study shows that what we would consider to be a low dose of caffeine — what some might not think twice about giving to an 8-year-old — is having an effect on the cardiovascular system,” Temple said. “And right now we don’t have enough data in kids to know what the long term effects of repeated exposure to caffeine would be.”
Image: Frozen coffee drink, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
The good news for parents who are concerned that kids consume too much sugar in the form of soda is that kids are drinking less of those carbonated beverages. The bad news, though, is that coffee drinks and energy drinks–also packed with calories and caffeine–are replacing soda as the top choice for U.S. kids. More from Time.com on a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics:
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…[R]esearchers looked at trends in caffeine intake among people ages 2 to 22 between 1999 to 2010. They found that in 1999, 62 percent of kids and young adults got most of their caffeine from soda. But in 2010, that number dropped significantly to 38 percent.
Energy drinks were not a factor at the beginning of the study, but between 2009 to 2010, they rose to 6 percent of caffeine intake among young people. Coffee also made a jump, from 10 percent of caffeine intake in 1999-2000 to about 24 percent in 2009-2010.
Overall during the time period, researchers found that 73 percent of young people consumed some caffeine on a given day. Even more startling was the fact that 63 percent of kids aged between 2 and 5 consumed caffeine.
The researchers speculated that increased awareness over the link between soda and obesity could be one of the reasons fewer young people are guzzling sodas. But any increase in energy drink consumption among youth is concerning, given that high levels of caffeine can have a greater impact on smaller bodies. The American Academy of Pediatrics says energy drinks “should never be consumed by children or adolescents.”
Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Paula Morris, the mother of a teenager who died of cardiac arrhythmia last year, is the latest to file a lawsuit against the makers of Monster energy drinks, saying she blames her son’s death on his habit of drinking the beverage every day. More from The Associated Press:
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Alex Morris, 19, went into cardiac arrest during the early morning hours of July 1 and was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court alleges Morris would not have died if he did not drink two cans of Monster’s energy drink every day for the three years before his death, including the day he died.
Morris’ mother, Paula Morris, is listed as a plaintiff in the case.
The lawsuit comes after the family of 14-year-old Anais Fournier, of Maryland, also sued the company last year after she consumed two 24-ounce cans of Monster and died.
“Our allegations in the lawsuits are the same and that’s the peoples deaths were caused by these energy drinks and, more specifically, the defendants failure to warn about the dangers,” said Alexander Wheeler, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in both cases.
Monster representatives did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.