According to a new study, reports to US poison control centers regarding energy drinks and children younger than 6 years old are alarmingly high - at over 40% - and some of these children are suffering serious cardiac and neurological symptoms.
The researchers - led by Dr. Steven Lipschultz, professor and chair of pediatrics at Wayne State University and pediatrician-in-chief at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit - say the disproportionate number of children who are suffering cardiac and neurological symptoms is "concerning."
Energy drinks can contain pharmaceutical-grade caffeine and extra caffeine from natural sources that can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
The team notes that some energy drinks can have up to 400 mg of caffeine per can or bottle, compared with 100-150 mg in a regular cup of coffee.
What is more, caffeine poisoning can happen at levels higher than 400 mg per day in adults, above 100 mg a day in adolescents and at 2.5 mg per kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight in children under the age of 12.
"Energy drinks have no place in pediatric diets," says Dr. Lipschultz. "And anyone with underlying cardiac, neurologic or other significant medical conditions should check with their health care provider to make sure it's safe to consume energy drinks."
Though he is not a toxicologist, he says he became interested in the subject after treating children who became ill from ingesting energy drinks.