Health & Fitness

Study: Energy drinks can hurt kids

Parents might start hearing more about Red Bull during pediatrician visits.

Researchers at the University of Miami have reviewed the literature on energy drinks — caffeinated beverages such as Red Bull, which sometimes also contain herbal supplements — and their effects on children.

They found that the products, many of which have three times the caffeine of a cola and some of which have five times more, might be harmful to kids. Their results were released by the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

They include:

* The drinks are unregulated in the United States, and the number of overdoses of caffeine from drinking them are not known. But in Germany, Ireland and New Zealand, officials have reported cases of liver damage, kidney failure, seizures, confusion and arrhythmias associated with energy drink use.

* Caffeine in the drinks can exacerbate cardiac conditions (especially in children with eating disorders) and interfere with calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents.

* Extra calories in the drinks can contribute to diabetes, high BMI and dental problems.

The authors concluded that energy drinks don't have a therapeutic benefit to kids, and could put some children at risk for serious problems.

They urged pediatricians to ask patients about their energy-drink consumption and let them know about potential dangers.