MAY 17, 2017 2:16 PM PDT

Diagnosed: Teen Death Caused by Excess Caffeine

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The death of a 16-year-old high school student from South Carolina has been attributed to too much caffeine, too quickly.

Davis Allen Cripe was a typical high school teenager. He had no history of serious health issues, no pre-existing heart conditions. And at 200 pounds, Cripe may not have been at an ideal healthy weight, but he was not considered morbidly obese. So when Cripe suddenly collapsed during class and subsequently died, everyone wanted to know what happened.

Hours before Cripe collapsed, friends say the teen drank three high-caffeine drinks in a two-hour window. The drinks included a McDonald’s cafe latte, a large Diet Mountain Dew soda, and an energy drink.

After an autopsy, Coroner Gary Watts found no hidden heart defects. Watts ruled the death was likely due to  "caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.”

"This is not a caffeine overdose," said Watts. "We're not saying that it was the total amount of caffeine in the system, it was just the way that it was ingested over that short period of time, and the chugging of the energy drink at the end was what the issue was with the cardiac arrhythmia."

The cause of death is shocking to anyone, but especially to Davis’ parents. "Like all parents, we worry about our kids as they grow up. We worry about their safety, their health, especially once they start driving. But it wasn't a car crash that took his life. Instead, it was an energy drink," said Sean Cripe, Davis’ father. "Parents, please talk to your kids about the dangers of these energy drinks.”

Caffeine is widely popular for its effects as a stimulant. But the compound is addictive and with regular exposure, people can build a tolerance to caffeine without even knowing it.

For young children between 12 and 18 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day. In particular, "children and adolescents are advised to avoid energy drinks. They can contain a significant amount of caffeine as well as other stimulants," said Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, nutrition specialist and vice chairwoman in the department of nutrition at the University of California, Davis.

It’s estimated that Davis Cripe may have consumed about 470 milligrams of caffeine in the span of two hours. The bulk of the caffeine intake would have come from the energy drink, which can have as much as 240 milligrams of caffeine.  

“We lost Davis from a totally legal substance," said Watts. "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."

Additional source: CNN

Image credit: pixabay.com

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 08, 2020
Cardiology
Identifying Connections Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Cardiovascular Health
AUG 08, 2020
Identifying Connections Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Cardiovascular Health
Most people recognize rheumatoid arthritis as a disease that weakens the joints. It is actually an autoimmune disease, w ...
AUG 06, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Gut Feeling: Spotting the Early Signs of Gastric Cancer
AUG 06, 2020
Gut Feeling: Spotting the Early Signs of Gastric Cancer
In a study published in Science Advances, scientists propose a new method for diagnosing gastric cancer, the third leadi ...
AUG 27, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Genetic Tool Predicts Breast Cancer Risk in Women of Asian Ancestry
AUG 27, 2020
Genetic Tool Predicts Breast Cancer Risk in Women of Asian Ancestry
  Many diseases such as breast cancer have both a strong genetic component, coupled with a variety of environmental ...
OCT 21, 2020
Cancer
Can Excess Fructose Cause Liver Cancer?
OCT 21, 2020
Can Excess Fructose Cause Liver Cancer?
Hepatocellular carcinoma, aka liver cancer, is an ever-increasing issue in the western world. While the lion’s sha ...
OCT 24, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Software Flags Elevated Cerebral Palsy Risk in Premies
OCT 24, 2020
Software Flags Elevated Cerebral Palsy Risk in Premies
Diagnostic imaging scientists have developed a software tool for predicting the future onset of cerebral palsy in babies ...
NOV 05, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Painless Microneedle Patch Diagnoses Malaria in Minutes
NOV 05, 2020
Painless Microneedle Patch Diagnoses Malaria in Minutes
It looks like a Band-Aid — a small, adhesive patch that is applied directly to the skin. This simple, low-cost dia ...
Loading Comments...