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Dr Russ Blog - Caffeineated Kids!
Caffeineated Kids!
Created on 2/18/2011

I know plenty of parents who do not permit their children to drink coffee for fear they will like it and so develop a dependency on coffee / caffeine. Besides, how many children do you know who need caffeine?!

But many of those same parents have no problem allowing their children to drink heavily caffeinated sodas. Or worse - energy drinks.

A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics describes complications associated with the drinking of energy drinks, including seizures, irregular heart beats, increases in blood pressure, and rare cases of severe illness.

Data suggest that over 30% of middle schoolers drink energy drinks, and that percentage increases all the way up through their mid-20s.

It's true that the number of bad health outcomes associated with energy drinks is very low compared to how many people are using them, but the majority of side effects and complications likely go unreported.

In addition, until recently any toxicity from energy drinks reported to Poison Control Centers across the country were classified as cases of caffeine toxicity, and so could not be traced to energy drinks.

An additional concern is the accuracy of the caffeine content of the drinks as listed on the label. Often times these popular drinks contain other ingredients such as guarana and cocoa that also contain caffeine, but the amount of caffeine they add to the drink may not be listed.

I am not a fan of energy drinks, period, but I am especially concerned about our kids drinking them.

My take is that so many people are drawn to energy drinks because they are tired.

Why?

Because the majority of us, including children, are not getting enough sleep each night! We then "caffeine-up" to get going, do it again later in the day, and then can't understand why we have trouble falling asleep at night (the effects of caffeine lasts for hours, which is why it's a good idea to avoid caffeinated products after 3:00 in the afternoon).

That sets a bad precedent for our kids, who will likely follow our lead.

If you need a cup of coffee inthe morning (better yet, green tea...) that's fine. But please take it easy on the energy drinks - there's no significant health benefit documented for them but there are documented side effects. From a medical perspective, better to get enough sleep each night and avoid them, and to make clean water your beverage of choice.

Get some sleep (!), and be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **


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