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Energy Drinks could be Dangerous for Children

Update Date: Nov 17, 2014 10:22 AM EST

The safety of energy drinks has been debated over the years. New research suggests that these drinks could do more hard than good. According to the team, accidental exposure to energy drinks can lead to very dangerous health situations in young children.

For this study, the researchers examined data taken from the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System. From October 2010 to September 2013, there were 5,156 cases associated with energy drinks. Roughly 40 percent of these cases were in young children under six-years-old who did not know what they were drinking.

"They didn't go to a store and buy it; they found it in the refrigerator, or left by a parent or an older sibling," said study co-author Dr. Steven Lipshultz, MD, the pediatrician in chief at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, reported by FOX News.

Overall, 57 percent of the cases involved cardiovascular side effects while 55 percent of the cases were tied to neurologic symptoms. In 42 percent of the cases, mixing energy drinks with ethanol (alcohol) resulted in moderate to major situations. Similar outcomes were noted in 19 percent of the cases regarding energy drinks that were not mixed with alcohol.

In the children's cases, the most severe adverse effects included seizures, irregular heart rhythm or hypertension (high blood pressure). The researchers believe that the combination of different ingredients found in energy drinks could be responsible for these side effects. Energy drinks tend to have high levels of sugar and energy-boosting ingredients, such as caffeine, ginseng, taurine and I-carnitine.

"You can't really dissect out what is the effect of ginseng, what is the effect of taurine, what is the effect of guarana, what is the effect of caffeine," Lipshultz said.

He added, according to Medical Xpress, "The reported data probably represent the tip of the iceberg."

The study was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014 meeting held in Chicago.

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