How much is too much caffeine for children?

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

At the end of last school year, a boy in South Carolina died from consuming too much caffeine in a short time.

“It wasn't a car crash that took his life, instead it was an energy drink,” Sean Cripe said.

Caffeine may seem harmless, but a doctor from Texas Children’s Pediatrics gives warning about allowing your child to drink energy drinks, coffee and soda.

When 16-year-old Davis Cripe died last May, it was a mystery how a healthy teen could have a heart attack. After examining his behavior in the last two hours before his death, the coroner determined he had consumed a large diet Mountain Dew, cafe latte from McDonald's and some type of energy drink.

“Now with energy drinks, kids are starting to get more caffeine from those and those energy drinks can be very dangerous,” Dr. Adele Reeder from Texas Children’s Pediatrics said.

Reeder did not treat Cripe, but supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ strict stance on energy drinks, which recommends no kids ever consume them.

“They also have these other ingredients in them that augment the effects of caffeine. Which can further lead to impairment from the caffeine,” Reeder said.

Caffeine limits for children is far lower than adults.

“I stand before you as a broken-hearted father and hope that something good can come from this,” Sean Cripe said.

Reeder said the lesson is that innocent, sweet drinks, are not what they seem.

“Children are much more sensitive to caffeine than adults are and so it lasts a lot longer in kids than it does in adults so the side effects are going to be more prominent and side effects can be anxiety, insomnia, hyperactivity, all those things can lead to poor school performance as well and so really my recommendation is to avoid caffeine if it all possible,” Reeder said.

Reeder said it's not common to overdose on caffeine. Now is the time to remind kids where caffeine comes from: coffee, energy drinks, tea and candy (like chocolate).

Tremors, flushed skin and chest pains are all signals to get to an emergency room.

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