Parents can add another item to the growing list of things to keep out of the stomachs of young children.
Energy drinks, popular for their vitamin supplements and ability to provide an oft- needed alertness boost, have been singled out for causing adverse health effects in children. The concerns stem from a research study presented to the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014, showing that a significant proportion of the calls to U.S. poison control centers involve children under the age of six with parents reporting cardiac and neurological symptoms.
Poring over data from the different poison control centers across the United States, researchers found that, of the 5,146 cases of energy drink exposure reported to poison control centers between October, 2010 and September, 2013, over 40 percent of the calls involved young children less than 6 years of age. Erratic heart beats, nervousness, and other symptoms led the list of parental concerns and prompted the phone calls to poison control.
According to other studies, energy drinks are quickly replacing soft drinks as the beverage of choice among young people. There doesn’t appear to be an issue if the energy drinks are consumed by older kids and consumed in moderation. The problem is when younger children drink these energy beverages, some of which contain large doses of caffeine that cannot be handled by some young people. The caffeine levels in some energy drinks are double or triple the levels found in a cup of coffee.
One major problem with energy drinks is that they are not regulated consistently the way other beverages are regulated. The reason is because many of them are classified as dietary supplements, not as food. This means they are not subject to the same standards/scrutiny as a soft drink or other beverages.
It is still uncertain whether the caffeine is the cause of children’s health issues from energy drinks or whether ingredients like taurine, carnitine, etc. are causing the problem. It could very well be something else, but further research is necessary before any conclusion can be drawn.
In the meantime, parents need to control what their children consume and keep energy drinks safely out of reach. Most of the top energy drink brands already include an advisory warning on the packaging, stating that energy drinks are not recommended for children. Take this advice to heart and keep these beverages away from youngsters. There are plenty of other drinks for young children that offer all of the nutrients they need without the risk.
Copyright 2014, Bryan Carey