I don’t know if you read about this story recently, but here is a quick recap.
Over the course of two hours, a 16-year-old South Carolina teenager consumed 3 different caffeinated drinks. The abundance of caffeine in the teenager’s system caused a deadly heart arrhythmia that ultimately ended his life. The official coroner’s report has listed the cause of death as a caffeine-induced cardiac event.
As I read about this story, I couldn’t believe that a few caffeine drinks could do that. He consumed a café latte from McDonalds, a large diet Mountain Dew and a 16-ounce energy drink, over a two-hour period. It seems that these beverages caused the perfect storm for this young man and his body was not able to handle that amount of caffeine.
It’s a terrible tragedy that this young man’s life ended, so what can we learn from this to keep it from happening again in the future?
First and most importantly, we MUST educate our kids about the risks involved with caffeine consumption. I recently talked about this tragedy with my children and explained to them that this could happen to anyone. We agreed that the young man who died would certainly want every other kid out there to be extra cautious when consuming these drinks and stay within the recommended amount of daily caffeine consumption.
But is there a recommended amount and if so, what is it?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents, age 12 to 18, should not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is about the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee.
In 2011, about 1500 adolescents aged 12 to 17 went to the emergency room for energy drink related emergencies (CDC, 2017). The dangers of too much caffeine in your system may include heart complications (such as irregular heartbeat and heart failure), anxiety (feeling nervous and jittery), dehydration (not enough water in your body), and/or insomnia (unable to sleep).
Secondly, we have to be aware of what drinks our kids are ingesting. I know at my children’s elementary school, they do not offer any caffeinated beverages, but I’m not so sure that will be the case in junior high and in high school. As our children get older and have more options available to them, it’s important that we have open relationships with them and we communicate about what they are drinking on a daily basis.
These energy drinks, sodas, and coffee drinks are popular items to these youngsters so it’s important that we take that into consideration. My son recently told me that the kids in his school say it’s not that cool to drink water. We talked about how ridiculous it is if anyone thinks that your drink makes you cool.
The young man who died from the caffeine overdose was named Davis Allen Cripe, and I think he would want every single one of us to bring awareness to this topic. I ask every parent out there to share this story with their children and their friends.