A teenager suffered a seizure and popular soda Mountain Dew is to blame, according to Dr. Holly Benjamin from the American Academy of Pediatrics. How can a soda, though filled with sugars and caffeine, cause a teenage boy to suffer a seizure?
According to the reports, the boy suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, better known as ADHD, and was taking a stimulant medication for that condition. Dr. Benjamin believes that the added caffeine in the citrus-flavored Mountain Dew pushed the boy's body to the brink and caused him to start convulsing. Though it is rare for the body to suffer a seizure after drinking a soda or energy drink, it can happen, especially if the drinker is on medication that may interact with the caffeine or other stimulants in the drink.
There has been a national debate over this issue recently, and parents, doctors and even lawmakers found themselves concerned about the effects that energy drinks and sugar-laden sodas have on children.
While there are more studies being conducted, it is important to keep an eye on your child, and what he or she drinks. The caffeine levels in a Red Bull, for instance, are equivalent to that of a cup of coffee, according to the company. So, while drinking Red Bull and other energy-enhancing drinks are all the rage among children and teens, they are not too healthy and in some cases, can have adverse effects.
A 15-year-old boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has suffered a seizure after drinking two 24-ounce bottles of decaffeinated soft drink Mountain Dew.
Dr Holly Benjamin, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told how she recently saw the teenager seek hospital treatment. The boy was already taking stimulant ADHD medication, and the extra caffeine in principle might have pushed him over the edge, she said. The incident occurred in the wake of a national debate over energy drinks, which experts fear may have side effects.
Benjamin declined to reveal the name of the patient, whose condition had not been released at press time. However, she she joins a large group of American doctors urging kids and teens to avoid energy drinks and only consume sports drinks in limited amount.
Benjamin, who worked on a new report published in the journal Pediatrics, explained: 'Children never need energy drinks. They contain caffeine and other stimulant substances that aren't nutritional, so you don't need them.'
And kids might be more vulnerable to the contents of energy drinks than grown-ups.
She continued: 'If you drink them on a regular basis, it stresses the body. You don't really want to stress the body of a person that's growing.'
For the new recommendations, researchers went through earlier studies and reports on both energy drinks and sports drinks, which don't contain any stimulants.
They note that energy drinks contain a jumble of ingredients - including vitamins and herbal extracts - with possible side effects that aren't always well understood.
While there aren't many documented cases of harm directly linked to the beverages, stimulants can disturb the heart's rhythm and may lead to seizures in very rare cases, Benjamin said.
'You just never know,' she said. 'It's definitely a concern.' Earlier this year, Pediatrics published another review of the literature on energy drinks.
In it, Florida paediatricians described cases of seizures, delusions, heart problems and kidney or liver damage in people who had drunk one or more non-alcoholic energy drinks - including brands like Red Bull, Spike Shooter and Redline.
While they acknowledged that such cases are very rare, and can't be conclusively linked to the drinks, they urged caution, especially in kids with medical conditions.
U.S. sales of non-alcoholic energy drinks are expected to hit $9 billion this year, with children and young adults accounting for half the market.
Manufacturers claim their products will enhance both mental and physical performance, and were quick to downplay the February report.
Red Bull said in a statement to Reuters Health: 'The effects of caffeine are well-known and as an 8.4 oz can of Red Bull contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee (80 mg), it should be treated accordingly.'
Benjamin said that for most kids, water is the best thing to quench their thirst. If they happen to be young athletes training hard, a sports drink might be helpful, too, because it contains sugar.
But for kids who lead less-active lives, sports and energy drinks might just serve to pile on extra pounds, fuelling the national obesity epidemic.
While she acknowledged that more research is needed, Benjamin said the safest thing to drink is water.
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