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Dangerously high amounts of caffeine could be deadly for teenagers

Parents in Lake Charles have seen them and most likely have had their children ask for them. Energy drinks are all over Louisiana, but the amount of caffeine in a single energy drink could lead to a deadly condition -- caffeine toxicity. While energy drink manufacturers are quick to say these are not dangerous products, a family is missing a 14-year-old girl who died after drinking two 24-ounce drinks in one sitting.

The teenager had been at the mall with her friends and decided to have two Monster energy drinks. In that one sitting, the teen put 480 milligrams of caffeine into her system, but most Louisiana children and parents don't know exactly how much caffeine is in these drinks. The reason is that producers are not required to include the specific amount of caffeine each drink contains on their labels. Under federal law, energy drinks are considered dietary supplements, not food, and, thus, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Within one day the teenager had had a heart attack and doctors induced a coma. Physicians feared that after her cardiac arrest her brain might swell, necessitating the coma. Unfortunately, she never awoke and died six days later. Her distraught parents later learned that she had died of a cardiac arrhythmia caused by caffeine toxicity.

It is true that the teenager had a congenital heart problem, but the condition generally doesn't cause any problems. If the girl's family had known how much caffeine was in the two cans of Monster energy drink -- the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca Cola -- they may not have allowed her to use energy drinks at all. Without proper labeling, however, consumers can easily have too much caffeine and suffer serious health consequences.

Source: Health on TODAY, "Teen girl dies of 'caffeine toxicity' after downing 2 energy drinks," March 21, 2012

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