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Healthy 16-year-old died after drinking caffeine too quickly

A 16-year-old from South Carolina died after drinking several highly-caffeinated drinks in under two hours. The coroner has ruled the teenager was healthy and had no pre-existing heart condition, according to a BBC report.

David Allen Cripe collapsed after reportedly drinking a McDonald’s latte, a large Mountain Dew soft drink and an energy drink, all of them in just under two hours.

Caffeine would probably not have been seen as a factor in the death of the teenager without information from the witnesses.

The total amount of caffeine was not responsible for the death of the teenager, but rather the way that it was ingested over a very short period of time, the Richland County coroner explained. Witnesses could not say which brand of energy drink Cripe drank but said it was from a container the size of a large soft drink.

Health experts warn that people must pay attention to their caffeine intake and how quickly they consume such drinks.

The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) issued warnings against children and teenagers consuming energy drinks, saying their ingredients have not been tested on children and “no-one can ensure they are safe”.

Most energy drinks contain a caffeine equivalent of three cups of coffee and as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar, the AAP says. Based on statistics from Caffeine Informer, the 16-year-old may have consumed about 470mg of caffeine in just under two hours.

Thus, a McDonald’s latte has 142mg of caffeine, a 570ml (20oz) Mountain Dew has 90mg, and a 450ml (16oz) energy drink can have as much as 240mg.

The European Food Safety Authority said drinking more than 400mg could lead to increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, tremors, nervousness, insomnia and panic attacks.

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