Teen Dies From Caffeine Overdose: How Many Energy Drinks are Safe?

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A 16-year-old collapsed at his South Carolina high school after consuming too much caffeine in a short period of time.  He was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.  Davis Allen Cripe was a student at Anderson, South Carolina’s Spring Hill High School.  Sean Cripe, the boy’s father, and Gary Watts, the Richland County coroner held a news conference Monday, issuing a warning about the danger of young people drinking too much caffeine, especially the caffeine found in energy drinks.   

They said Davis had no health problems and didn’t consume alcohol or drugs.  The problem is that in a 2-hour period he consumed:

  • a large Diet Mountain Dew
  • a McDonald’s cafe latte
  • an energy drink

The official cause of death for Davis Allen Cripe was a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.”

Although coffee and soda contain caffeine, doctors say energy drinks are far more harmful.  In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics  recommends children under the age of 18 avoid energy drinks entirely.  “Most have a caffeine equivalent of three cups of coffee and as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar,” according to the AAP website. 

In addition to caffeine, energy drinks typically contain other stimulants such as guarana, taurine, and L-carnitine.   

The AAP says children between the ages of 12 and 18 years “should not exceed 100 mg of caffeine a day. This is the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee.”

The amount of caffeine in energy drinks varies widely, according to CaffeineInformer.com, which lists energy drinks and their caffeine content. The coroner and Davis’ father chose not to reveal the brand name of the drink Davis consumed the day he died.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports thousands of teenagers are seen in emergency rooms after suffering dangerous side effects from energy drinks.  These include:

  • Dehydration (not enough water in your body)
  • Heart complications (such as irregular heartbeat and heart failure)
  • Anxiety (feeling nervous and jittery)
  • Insomnia (unable to sleep)

Choking back tears, Sean Cripe said he didn’t want what happened to his son to happen to anyone else. 

“It wasn’t a car crash that took his life,” he said.  “Instead, it was an energy drink. Parents, please talk to your kids about these energy drinks. And teenagers and students: please stop buying them.”

Click here to watch a related report: “Dangerous Drinks”

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