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Energy Drinks May Hurt Kids: Study
Date:2/14/2011

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Energy drinks such as Red Bull, AMP and Rockstar have no health value and may even harm some children and teens, a new review finds.

The increasingly popular, highly caffeinated drinks are especially risky for children with heart abnormalities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other health or emotional problems, said Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, co-author of the study, published online Feb. 14 in the journal Pediatrics.

"It's a set of products that are totally unregulated and have no therapeutic benefit," said Lipshultz, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Miami.

Surveys suggest that 30 percent to 50 percent of U.S. teenagers and young people consume energy drinks, despite warnings about their safety. Many users mix the energy drinks with alcohol, further heightening the potential for ill effects, say the researchers.

But even without the addition of alcohol, the beverages carry some measure of risk, according to the study authors, who reviewed numerous articles for their report.

For one thing, safe levels of energy drinks, which contain stimulants such as caffeine, taurine and guarana, have not been established for children and teens, the authors said.

An 8-ounce energy drink may contain dozens or hundreds of milligrams of caffeine, compared to 100 milligrams of caffeine in a generic cup of coffee. An 8-ounce serving of Red Bull contains 77 milligrams of caffeine, compared to 28 milligrams in an equal amount of Mountain Dew, the report noted.

Energy-drink manufacturers often add other ingredients, such as sugar and herbal supplements, whose effects haven't been well-studied. And, some ingredients can interfere with medications, the authors added.

But the maker of Red Bull took issue with the findings.

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