(CNN) – Energy drinks are growing in popularity, but not everyone should drink them.
Energy drinks, they’re cheap, high-octane, and readily available in stores, maybe too readily available.
A recent study found that over 40% of all energy drink-related calls to poison control centers in the U.S. were for kids under 6, many of them suffering serious nervous system and heart symptoms.
“A can or a bottle of an energy drink could have as much as 500mg of caffeine which is equal to about 14 cans of soda. So way higher than you’d want a child to have. Sometimes these drinks aren’t labeled well, so you don’t see what the ingredients can be, including the high amounts of caffeine, and the child may think it’s the same as any type of soda or juice that their parents might be ok with giving them,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, Pediatrician.
Shu says the dangers of overconsumption for kids, and even adults varies from the minor.
“As simple as headaches or some shakiness or jitteriness but they could even be more serious like problems with your heart rhythm, where your heart is irregular, it beats too fast or even seizures,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, Pediatrician.
The risks are particularly high, she says, for kids who already take stimulant medications for things like ADHD, and older kids who may mix the energy drinks with alcohol. However, it’s not just the caffeine and other stimulants raising concerns. The drinks are also often filled with sugar.
“Too much of that sugar can cause weight gain as well as cavities,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, Pediatrician.
In general, Shu says it’s best to keep kids away from anything but the basics.
“For the most part, all of the fluid your body needs can be found in water, in milk and some 100% fruit juice. You really don’t need what’s marketed as sports drinks with electrolytes unless you’re doing some really vigorous physical exercise,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, Pediatrician.
And to prevent your child from accidentally drinking an energy drink, she says keep them locked up.
“I encourage parents to treat energy drinks like they would any kind of drug or medicine or household chemical. Keep them out of the reach of kids. You’re keeping alcohol out of the reach of kids, you’re also keeping cleaning supplies out, you should also keep energy drinks out,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, Pediatrician.