Medicine

Energy Drinks and Dietary Supplements May Expose Kids to Poisonous Health Hazards

Energy Drinks and Dietary Supplements May Expose Kids to Poisonous Health Hazards

From 2005 to 2012, the rate of calls to the U.S. Poison Control Centers jumped nearly 50 per cent.

Indeed, a new report from researchers bears out Pena's observations: From 2005 through 2012, the annual rate of accidental exposures to dietary supplements rose in the United States by almost 50 percent, and 70 percent of those exposures involved young children.

As dietary supplements have gotten more popular, there has been an increase in their link to adverse reactions.

Numerous exposures of energy products, including energy drinks, occurred in young children and led to heart and breathing problems, seizures, and other clinical problems. Out of which, most exposures (97.3 per cent) occurred at home, and in more than 97 per cent of the cases, the child was found to swallow the substance. "Although the majority of these exposure calls did not result in serious medical outcomes, exposures to yohimbe and energy products can be unsafe, suggesting the need for child-resistant packaging, caregiver education and FDA regulation of these substances". Researchers found the rate of calls regarding dietary supplement exposures increased (46.1 per cent) during 2000-2002, decreased (8.8 per cent) during 2002-2005 and increased again (49.3 per cent) from 2005-2012.

Overall, only about 4.5 percent of the cases in the study had serious medical outcomes. In 2004, the FDA banned ma huang after it was linked to several deaths.

The researchers said energy products, along with botanical and cultural medicines, accounted for the largest proportion of serious medical events. For instance, he points to the sexual enhancement product Yohimbe, which has been associated with serious side effects including abnormal heart rate, kidney failure, heart attack, and seizure, and to energy products, which have also been linked to abnormal heart rate and seizure.

Of the kids reported exposed to yohimbe, more than a quarter of the cases resulted in a child being moderately harmed, while 3.2 per cent were taken to the hospital and admitted to a critical care unit and at least 1.3 per cent were considered serious.

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Often, children find the supplements on a kitchen counter, Spiller said.

There didn't seem to be a big jump in use of dietary supplements during that time.

Though the data coming into poison centers may miss adult exposures and chronic, rather than acute, poisonings, the authors say it shows the FDA needs to do more.

There was one reported child death as a result of ingesting yohimbe supplements. "Our results demonstrate the need for FDA regulation of yohimbe and energy products in the USA as was done successfully with ma huang products in 2004", the authors conclude.

Pena, who was not involved with the study, tells parents to "treat these supplements the same as they would treat prescription or over-the-counter medicines". However, she cautions the purchase of any product without a doctor's knowledge.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, both at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Colombus, published the report based on the study Monday. National Institutes of Health.


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