A scientific literature review has reportedly warned against routine energy drink use, claiming that these beverages have been associated with reported “serious adverse events, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults with seizures, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, or mood and behavioral disorders or those who take certain medications.” Sara Seifert, et al., “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults,” Pediatrics, February 2011. Using PubMed and Google resources “to identify articles related to energy drinks,” researchers apparently estimated that energy drinks “are consumed by 30% to 50% of adolescents and young adults,” and raised concerns about the effects on those with cardiovascular conditions, ADHD, eating disorders, and diabetes.

“Energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit, and both the known and unknown pharmacology of various ingredients, combined with reports of toxicity, suggest that these drinks may put some children at risk for serious adverse health effects,” reported the reviewers, who speculated that “youthaimed marketing and risk-taking adolescent developmental tendencies combine to increase overdose potential.”

The study’s authors therefore urge pediatricians to “screen for consumption” and educate patients as to “the potential adverse effects of energy drinks.” They have also recommended that long-term research “should aim to better define maximum safe doses, the effects of chronic use, and effects in at-risk populations,” as well as provide better documentation and tracking systems.

“Unless research establishes energy-drink safety in children and adolescents, regulation, as with tobacco, alcohol and prescription medications, is prudent,” concludes the literature review. “This approach is essential for reducing morbidity and mortality, encouraging research, and supporting families of children and young adults at risk for energy-drink overdose, behavioral changes, and acute/chronic health consequences.”