09/05/2013 01:30 EDT

Energy Drink And Kids: Not The Best Mix


For parents of energy drink swilling teens and adolescents, a new report warns that all that liquid caffeine could pose a serious risk.

Kids who are most at risk are those who regularly consume energy drinks or gulp down a large amount in a short span of time, warns Rutgers University in the U.S. in a press release on Wednesday.

"These drinks are made for adults," says Bruce Ruck, director of drug information and professional education for the New Jersey

Poison Information & Education System (NPIES) at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark. "When young children drink them, they consume a large quantity of caffeine for their body mass. At the minimum, they become wired -- just as an adult would -- and it might be difficult for parents to console them or calm them down."

"Children also might have trouble falling asleep or experience tremors, anxiety, agitation, heart palpitations, nausea or vomiting," he adds. "Of more concern, they may experience a rapid heart rate or seizures."

He advises that parents treat energy drinks as they would any medication, storing them on a high shelf away from view. For teens, parents should keep a close eye on their consumption.

Another problematic trend for kids is mixing energy drinks with alcohol or punishing workouts. Steven Marcus, the executive and medical director of NPIES, emphasizes that teens and young adults are inherently risk takers. And those who are physically active face extra risk this time of year. "This is when high school and collegiate athletes start their ramp up," he says. "The use of energy drinks coupled with strenuous exercise in hot weather can produce a potentially fatal situation."

A recent report in the journal Pediatrics found that up to 50 per cent of U.S. adolescents and young adults drink energy drinks on a regular basis.

Caffeine levels in drinks such as Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar range from about 6 milligrams to 242 milligrams per serving, and some containers have more than one serving. By comparison, an 8-ounce/236.5 mL cup of coffee has about 100 milligrams.

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