A teenage high school student in South Carolina died after ingesting too much caffeine over a short period of time, leading to a caffeine overdose. Us News reports that the 16-year-old’s heart was healthy prior to drinking several caffeinated beverages, which led to heart-related problems and death. How much caffeine is too much for teens?
Gary Watts, a coroner from Richland County, revealed that the South Carolina teen did not have a pre-existing heart issue prior to death. The high school student, Davis Cripe, collapsed while attending class last month. NBC News reports that Cripe consumed a latte, a large Mountain Dew, and an unnamed energy drink over the course of two hours. The jolt of caffeine caused his heart to go out of rhythm, which resulted in death.
“On this particular day within the two hours prior to his death, we know had consumed a large diet Mountain Dew, a café latte from McDonald’s and also some type of energy drink,” Watts shared in a statement. “It was so much caffeine at the time of his death that it caused his arrhythmia.”
Watts believes parents should be aware of potentially deadly caffeine overdoses. A cup of coffee or a soda is typically fine for teens, but large amounts ingested in a short time can result in heart problems and even death.
In April, a team of researchers released findings that show how energy drinks can change blood pressure and heart readings – and it isn’t just the caffeine that makes them bad. A report in 2015 came to similar conclusions about the dangers of energy drinks.
“These drinks can be very dangerous,” Watts concluded. “I’m telling my friends and family don’t drink them.”
Watts was unable to determine the brand of energy drink Cripe drank prior to his death. Both a medical examiner and a forensic toxicologist worked on Cripe and found that he had unsafe levels of caffeine in his blood, leading to a caffeine overdose. Watts is aware that the findings might be considered controversial by certain groups but stood by his belief that parents should be informed about the risks associated with caffeine.
“The purpose here today is not to slam Mountain Dew, not to slam café lattes, or energy drinks,” he explained. “But what we want to do is to make people understand that these drinks – this amount of caffeine, how it’s ingested, can have dire consequences. And that’s what happened in this case.”
Cripe’s father, Sean Cripe, offered a similar message after the findings were released to the public.
“It wasn’t a car crash that took his life. Instead, it was an energy drink,” he shared. “Parents, please talk to your kids about these energy drinks.”
According to the Food and Drug Administration, it is safe to drink around 400 milligrams of caffeine a day depending on the person. USA Today reports that this equates to about four cups of coffee, give or take. As a drug, caffeine releases stress hormones that can increase heart rate. Others have died after consuming too much caffeine and typically experience fast heart rates, vomiting, and even seizures prior to death.
It isn’t clear how much caffeine is in a McDonald’s latte, but a can of Mountain Dew has around 54 milligrams of the drug. Sadly, Cripe was unaware of the dangers of consuming too much caffeine and didn’t know he was engaging in risky behavior.
Cripe’s story should serve as a healthy warning to parents about the dangers of drinking too many caffeinated products, especially energy drinks. For adults, the situation is made even worse by combining caffeine and alcohol, which can increase the chances of alcohol poisoning.
Tell us! Are you in danger of a caffeine overdose? Let us know in the comments below.
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