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Energy Drinks Found to Pose Risk to Young Children

A new study, presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association, has found that energy drinks can pose a serious health risk to young children. The study’s authors analyzed records from 55 US poison control centers between October 2010 and September 2013. Here’s what the researchers discovered:

  • Out of the 5,156 calls made about energy drinks to the poison control centers, more than 40% involved children younger than 6 who were unintentionally exposed to energy drinks. This usually occurs when a child finds an energy drink in the refrigerator at home and consumes it.
  • Across all age groups, 57% of the cases with moderate or major outcomes reported cardiovascular side-effects. A moderate outcome is one where some form of treatment is required. A major outcome is one that is life-threatening, or that results in serious residual disability or disfigurement.
  • 55% of the cases with moderate or major outcomes reported neurological side-effects.
  • The number of children who became ill from energy drinks is probably much higher, considering that the study data did not include emergency room visits, or other instances where the poison control hotline was not called.

The study also found that combining alcohol and energy drinks increased the risk of a moderate or major outcome—42% of cases of combined use resulted in a moderate or major outcome, compared with 19% of cases involving just energy drinks alone. However, it is important to note that the findings of the study are considered preliminary because they have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: American Heart Association

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