Last week, the parents of a 14-year-old girl filed a product liability wrongful death lawsuit against Monster Energy Drinks, charging that the drinks contributed to the “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity” that claimed her life.
The lawsuit states that the young woman drank two 24-oz. cans of Monster within a 24-hour timeframe, and she consumed the last can hours before she died. An attorney representing the parents said the amount of caffeine in two 24-oz. cans of Monster is “the equivalent of almost 14 cans of Coca-Cola.”
This is one of a handful of tragic deaths in recent years that have been blamed on energy drinks, which has led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to launch an investigation. However, a spokeswoman for the FDA said it has not yet been proven that energy drinks caused or even played a role in the deaths. She added that other factors could have also been involved, and that’s what the FDA is looking into.
But a study published in Pediatrics last year warned that energy drinks can be very dangerous when consumed by children, adolescents and young adults. Three months after the study was released, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement concluding that children should not consume energy drinks for safety reasons.
A doctor who worked on the study said that caffeine is more dangerous than we realize, especially in young people. That’s because caffeine is “biologically active” and when a child takes it “his heart rate goes up, his blood pressure goes up. It affects almost every part of his body,” he said.
The FDA defines caffeine as a supplement that’s “generally recognized as safe,” the doctor said, which means it’s probably not as regulated as it should be. Currently, the FDA allows a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine per dose in non-prescription drugs.
Source: NBC News, “When caffeine kills: Energy drinks under the spotlight,” Maggie Fox and Linda Carroll, Oct. 23, 2012