Too Much Caffeine Blamed For South Carolina Teen's Death
Boy dies after consuming energy drink, large soda and cafe latte
A 16-year South Carolina boy collapsed in a classroom and died from drinking too much caffeine, according to the Richland County, SC coroner.
The official cause of death for Davis Allen Cripe was a "caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a problem arrythmia."
The teen reportedly consumed a large Diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte and an energy drink over the course of two hours.
“Davis, like so many other kids and so many other people out there today, was doing something (he) thought was totally harmless, and that was ingesting lots of caffeine,” said Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said. “We lost Davis from a totally legal substance.”
Cook Children’s Medical Director of Cardiology, Deborah Schutte, M.D., warns that too much caffeine can be harmful to children.
“We frequently see children with palpitations. One of the causes of palpitations is increased consumption of caffeine such as that found in energy drinks,” Dr. Schutte said. “Caffeine can cause the heart to pump at an unnatural pace, resulting in palpitations.”
A cup of coffee has roughly 100-200 mg. of caffeine. One study from the Consumer Reports reported that energy drinks have on average 20 percent more caffeine than a cup of coffee.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that "caffeine - by far the most popular stimulant - has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems."
The AAP continues that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents and that "caffeine-containing beverages, including sodas, should be avoided."
“It wasn't a car crash that took his life,” Davis' father, Sean, said of his son. “Instead, it was an energy drink. Parents, please talk to your kids about these energy drinks. And teenagers and students: please stop buying them.”
Imagine your child’s heart after consuming too much caffeine. The heart starts to pound and flutter; this may even be felt near the throat. If the child also feels dizzy, has shortness of breath or chest discomfort, seek emergency medical attention immediately. It is possible for cardiac arrest to occur.
Will every child have this reaction? “No, but why take the chance,” says Dr. Schutte.
Loaded with caffeine, sugar and stimulants, energy drinks have become a nearly $40 billion industry worldwide.
And while much of the marketing may seem targeted for young people, health experts warn the caffeinated energy drinks on the market may be particularly harmful for kids.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says these drinks “get their ‘energy’ from large doses of caffeine and sugar. Most have a caffeine equivalent of three cups of coffee and as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar.”
Along with the high amounts of caffeine and sugar, some energy drinks contain other supplements such as taurine, an amino acid about which little research has been conducted.
Organizations ranging from the AAP to the Food and Drug Administration have come out strong against these high energy drinks. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association says energy drinks may cause harmful changes in blood pressure and heart function.
The article states that there are currently more than 500 energy drink products available on the market with claims to boost physical and mental alertness. It goes on to report that “in line with their increased popularity is a coinciding rise in energy drink-associated emergency department visits and deaths, which has led to questions about their true safety profile.”
A 2015 Mayo Clinic study found that even one energy drink may increase heart disease risk in young adults.
U.S. poison control centers states that between 2010 and 2013, almost half of the more than 5,000 cases of people who became sick from energy drinks were children.
If your child or teen expresses a need for energy drinks to stay alert and attentive at school or during sports, make sure he or she gets adequate amounts of sleep each night. Additionally, eating a balanced diet with all the necessary vitamins and minerals will ensure your child is well nourished and help him or her feel more energized.
“Overall, I think it’s a bad idea to allow children to consume energy drinks,” said Corey Mandel, M.D., pediatric cardiologist on staff at Cook Children’s. “While the drinks may not significantly affect one child, another child may be at a higher risk for heart problems. Energy drinks and caffeinated beverages increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can adversely affect heart function and even lead to abnormal heart rhythms.”