COLUMBIA, S.C. —The Palmetto Poison Center at the University of South Carolina has issued a warning about caffeine use after a South Carolina teen died from ingesting too much of it. 16-year-old Davis Cripe died last month after collapsing in class at Spring Hill High School in Chapin.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts announced Monday that Cripe died from a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia,” or irregular heartbeat. In a two-hour period, Cripe drank a large Diet Mountain Dew, a latte, and an energy drink. He says Cripe didn’t have any family history of a problem that would have been made worse by caffeine.
Watts said Monday, “Now the purpose here today is not to slam Mountain Dew, it’s not to slam cafe lattes, it’s not to slam energy drinks, but what we want to do here today is 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.”
Jill Michels, Pharm.D., Director of the Palmetto Poison Center says, “While adults should be mindful of their caffeine consumption, it’s important for parents to know the risks of children and adolescents consuming caffeine. Take the time to talk with your children about the dangers of caffeinated drinks.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens not drink any caffeine.
She says a safe amount of caffeine for an adult is considered to be about 400 milligrams. That’s equal to about four or five cups of coffee, depending on the brand and the size of the cup or mug. But one Starbucks Blonde Roast Venti has 475 milligrams.
The amount of caffeine in energy drinks varies, but a Monster Energy drink has 160 mg while a Red Bull has 80. Michels says you have to be careful with energy drinks, though. “You can read caffeine on a label when you read a soda can, but these energy drinks have it kind of hidden in there as well, words like guarana and if you see cola nuts, those are also forms of caffeine as well,” she says.
A 12 ounce Coke or Pepsi has about 35 mg of caffeine.
Sean Cripe, Davis’s father, said at a news conference Monday, “I stand before you as a broken-hearted father and hoping that something good can come from this. Parents, please talk to your kids about the dangers of these energy drinks. And teenagers and students, please stop buying them.”