Drinking Caffeine ‘Too Quickly’ Kills Teen, Not Overdose: Warning For Parents [Opinion]

It was just three caffeinated drinks that put an otherwise healthy teen into a “caffeine-induced cardiac event,” which is what the coroner believes caused his death. Davis Allen Cripe was only 16 when he collapsed at his high school last month from what the coroner deems a “probable arrhythmia.” This is not an overdose of caffeine, reports the coroner. David Cripe’s death was a case of the teen consuming too much caffeine in a short period of time.

David Cripe was a typical teen without any pre-existing heart problems, so to die from a cardiac event at such a young age is not something you would expect. The South Carolina teen died after drinking three caffeinated drinks within the course of two hours, according to BBC News. Drinking this amount of caffeine in under two hours is what the coroner reported as “too quickly.”

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts announced his findings at a news conference on Monday. He stressed that the teen drank the three highly-caffeinated drinks “too quickly” when he did so in just under two hours. This is not being called a “caffeine overdose,” Watts said.

“This was not an overdose. We lost Davis from a totally legal substance,” Watts explained. “Our purpose here today is to let people know, especially our young kids in school, that these drinks can be dangerous, and be very careful with how you use them, and how many you drink on a daily basis.”

Sean Cripe, David’s father, sent out an urgent warning to all parents to talk to your kids about these energy drinks. There is a big push on caffeine these days, and it seems David Cripe drank three of the more popular caffeinated drinks that kids gravitate to today.

At 12:30 p.m., David purchased a latte at McDonald’s, and shortly after that, he polished off a Diet Mountain Dew. He followed the Mountain Dew with one of the newer energy drinks on the market. These are the drinks you often see in teens’ hands while they walk down the street or just hang out at the park.

The otherwise healthy 16-year-old collapsed at about 2:30 p.m. at his high school in Chapin, South Carolina, reports CNN. At 3:40 p.m., David Cripe was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The coroner reports that David had no condition that caffeine could have triggered. Drugs or alcohol didn’t cause his death; there were none found in the teen’s system during the autopsy.

Many parents don’t realize that Mountain Dew contains more caffeine than many popular colas on the market today. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a 20 oz. Mountain Dew, diet or regular, contains 91 milligrams of caffeine, where the same size Coke or Pepsi (diet or regular) only contains between 47 and 57 milligrams of caffeine.

It is not known what type of energy drink the teen drank after the Mountain Dew, but the caffeine content in some of these energy drinks is as high as 357 milligrams, which is what is posted for a 16-ounce Bang Energy Drink on the Center for Science in the Public Interest website. Two of the more popular energy drinks are Red Bull and Monster. An eight-ounce Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine, and a Monster Energy Drink contains 160 milligrams of caffeine in a 16-ounce can.

The caffeine content of a McDonald’s Latte is going to depend upon the size you purchase, but according to the Caffeine Informer, the Latte from McDonald’s contains 71 milligrams for a small, 142 milligrams for a medium, and 178 milligrams of caffeine for a large.

Some of the newer energy drinks are packaged to look appealing to teenagers with its bright colors and designs. Some parents might not even realize that these drinks are caffeinated. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day for children between the ages of 12 to 18. Any greater amount of caffeine per day “has been associated with elevated blood pressure in adolescents,” reports CNN.

[Featured Image by Dick Whipple/AP Images]