Teen’s Sudden Death Raises Caffeine Concern Among Parents

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Soda, coffee, and energy drinks are popular with teenagers, and while caffeine may not necessarily be good for them, could it actually kill them?

Doctors say a teenage boy died after drinking a lot of caffeine in a short amount of time. As CBS2’s Elise Finch reported, that case has parents and teens talking.

Davis Allen Cripe, 16, was considered healthy by all accounts, but the sophomore collapsed at his South Carolina high school last month and later died at a nearby hospital.

According to the Richland County coroner, the cause of death was caffeine.

Cripe consumed a large diet Mountain Dew, one cafe latte, and an energy drink in less than two hours.

The caffeine in those drinks triggered a cardiac event that killed him.

Robert Glatter is an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital. He said because caffeine is present in so many foods and drinks that people think it’s harmless.

“It triggers an increase in your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure, and it can trigger arrhythmias which are the abnormal heartbeats people feel. These are the palpitations when you feel nervous or anxious.” He said, “…even put you at risk for a heart attack, stroke, even a seizure if you take it in too quickly.”

Dr. Glatter said some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, but they may not realize how much until it’s too late.

Teenagers in Westchester County said caffeinated beverages are seen as helpful, cool, even glamorous.

“It almost became like a fashion statement to have your coffee with you,” Caroline Rotante said.

“It helps me get work done, it’s just become a part of my routine,” Otis Roffman added.

The consequences can be deadly, and parents said that stories like this are exactly why they try to keep their kids away from caffeinated beverages.

“My pediatrician told me it’s just not good for them, it races their heart and everybody has a different reaction,” Diane Danza said.

Doctors said in order to avoid medical emergencies and tragedies, children should only be allowed to have small amounts of caffeine over a long period of time.

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